Excerpt from an article on Vox, published on May 3, 2017 – the third installment of Climate Lab.
Admit it: Somewhere in your house, old devices are lurking in a drawer, a box, a dark corner. Broken phones, weird chargers for things you can’t fully recall; we try to convince ourselves this sad array of misfit gadgetry will simply disappear if we just forget about it hard enough. How did we get here?
Our phones are the major culprit. On average, Americans get a new phone every two years. We’ll trust a 20-year-old plane to fly us across the country, and the average car on the road in the US is more than 11 years old — but a phone? Two years, and into the junk drawer of sadness it goes.
In truth, your phone’s demise isn’t the only part of its life we’d rather keep out of sight and out of mind. Candidly speaking, your phone has been around: picking up synthetic sapphire in China, lithium for a battery in South America, cobalt in Africa, plastic in the Middle East, processors in Korea, a display screen in Japan.
All that globetrotting comes with a hidden environmental cost. In fact, 80 percent of a smartphone’s climate impact happens before it ever reaches you.