jane marsh

Understanding the Secret Energy Impacts of Smartphones

Global digitalization is directly impacting the climate crisis. Many smartphone users are unaware of their devices’ carbon footprints. They may believe the only emissions related to smartphones come from charging.

Understanding the Secret Energy Impacts of Smartphones

Individuals are unable to see the indirect energy impacts from manufacturing, data storage and other features. Environmentalists are searching for emission-reduction techniques in the digital sector. Minimizing smartphones’ energy uses can increase global sustainability.

Sustainability and Smartphones

Environmentalists are evaluating smartphones’ energy usage to determine their sustainability levels. Nearly 84% of the global power supply comes from fossil fuels. The energy sources produce greenhouse gas emissions during the combustion phase.

Older smartphones are incompatible with modern internet features and have lower efficiency rates. Overusing electricity significantly increases a device’s carbon footprint. Other greenhouse gas emissions come from a smartphone’s indirect features.

Smartphone manufacturing processes produce about 80 kilograms (kg) of emissions for each device. Transporting phones from manufacturing facilities to stores also produces carbon emissions. Another sustainability limiting feature of smartphone production is material mining.

Professionals mine lithium to create smartphone batteries. Mines release contaminants into local ecosystems and adversely affect wildlife. There are various forms of pollution coming from smartphones, which adversely impact the environment.

The Cloud

Smartphones conduct advanced features using the internet of things (IoT). IoT requires a cloud connection, which relies on significant quantities of energy. Cloud computing uses nearly 30 billion watts of energy annually.

In the U.S., data centers use as much electricity as 6.4 million homes. Most of their energy use comes from cooling down computing systems. Temperature control devices use nearly 43% of data centers’ power supplies.

App Use and Charging

Another secret energy-consuming smartphone feature is its applications. Users rely on social media apps to connect with their friends, upload content, store data and access important global information. Some of the most popular social media apps use unsustainable quantities of electricity.

TikTok produces about 2.63 grams of greenhouse gas emissions during each minute of activity. Other apps like Instagram and Facebook also use significant quantities of electricity. Apps’ high energy use directly contributes to environmental degradation.

Charging smartphones also increase their carbon footprints. Leaving a device on a charger overnight can increase its energy consumption. Smartphones use up to six watts of power while charging.

Smartphones’ Other Environmental Impacts

Most of smartphones’ ecological degradation comes from energy consumption. Another portion of smartphone pollution comes from electronic waste (e-waste). Many electronic components are non-recyclable and produce municipal solid waste (MSW).

Smartphones may degrade in landfills and release harmful contaminants into the environment. Decomposing e-waste also adversely affects humans’ health. Individuals with high e-waste exposures may experience stillbirths, lead poisoning, nervous system issues and other conditions.

Environmental engineers are improving the energy efficiency and longevity of smartphones to increase sustainability levels.

Improving Smartphone Sustainability

Older smartphones may upload information slowly using more energy than modern versions. If devices are incompatible with modern internet features, they may produce larger carbon footprints. Individuals may replace their outdated phones with energy-efficient versions to decrease pollution.

The most sustainable smartphone on the market is the Teracube 2e. It contains a 4000 milliampere-hour (mAh) replaceable battery. The battery also lasts for two days on a single charge.

The Teracube 2e is significantly more energy-efficient than other smartphones on the market. It also comes with a sturdy, biodegradable case to increase its protection and longevity. Users can also make strides to reduce their smartphones’ energy waste.

Individuals may stay on top of updates and minimize excess electricity uses. They can also keep their smartphones out of the sun to prevent overheating. Users may additionally reduce e-waste by replacing broken smartphone components instead of throwing away an entire device.

When Will Large Tech Companies Prioritize Energy Efficiency?

Apple is making strides towards sustainability using renewable energy and recycled materials. They are also reducing harmful material use to increase their products’ recyclability. Researchers expect Apple and other smartphone producers to release energy-efficient devices in the coming years and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

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