The real costs behind technology production
More than 2.5 billion people worldwide use smartphones. They are with us everywhere and they help us with most things - they are smartphones after all. But how smart are the production lines? What does it cost to produce a smartphone?
Several of the raw materials used in the production of smartphones and other technology are conflict minerals (tin, gold, etc.). This means that the way minerals are extracted in many cases violates both legislation and fundamental human rights. It is a cost manufacturer should not be willing to pay. In addition, 53 kg of CO2 is released during the production of a smartphone. When 2.5 billion people own a smartphone and buy a new one the moment the freshest model is out, it goes without saying that the CO2 emissions of the industry are significant.
In an increasingly technology-driven world, we find ourselves in deep, digitalized distress. We develop technology faster and faster and replace our devices more often than ever to stay on top of the digital game. At the same time, the climate crisis is knocking on the door. How can we make our consumption more sustainable, both environmentally and socially, all the while having access to the devices we need?
First and foremost, the manufacturers must take responsibility for and support their suppliers throughout the production line – all the way from the extraction of raw materials to production and beyond. They also need to make it easier for their products to be recycled and for the components to be reused.
Secondly, procurement organisations must set requirements for sustainability when purchasing new products and services – this is especially important in public tenders. The public sector has tremendous purchasing power and can force innovation and development of more sustainable products and services.
Third, we as consumers, employees and business owners, need to learn to think more circular. For what happens when one or two years have passed and you want to replace your smartphone? What are you going to do with it? The best way to utilize the resources and components used in the production of the smartphone, or any other technology, is reuse. This realisation brings possibilities for businesses and new, innovative business models that are based on circular economy and we can already see big growth in the industry.
If we manage to take better care of technology, it can be reused and not directly recycled, saving resources in the process. This supports the fundamental idea of circular economy, which is socially and environmentally more sustainable than the traditional “take, make, waste” way of thinking.
Because what goes around comes around.