Smartphone charging to generate same greenhouse gas emissions as 1 million cars by 2019

SmokestackThere is a dark side (or more you could even argue) to the mobile devices that have made our lives easier. A report by Juniper Research has concluded that producing the growing number of smartphone, tablets and other mobile devices we use will generate over 115 million tons of greenhouse gases (GHGs) per year by 2019, up 30 percent from this year. That’s about as much as the annual emissions from 22.6 million cars or 60 years worth of flights leaving London Heathrow airport.

The report found that the vendors themselves only account for 5 percent of that figure with the remainder attributed to the remainder of the supply chain, namely all of the suppliers that provide the necessary components for our devices. It adds that GHG emissions could be reduced by 18.8 million megatons by making manufacturing processes more energy efficient and more reliant on renewable energy sources.

Manufacturing all those devices is only the beginning though. Simply charging all these devices already accounts for another 6.4 megatons of GHGs annually and that will rise to 13 megatons (about the same as annual emissions of 1.1 million cars) by 2019.

It does not end there. The report does not make mention of the environmental costs of disposing of all these devices once we are done with them. This is another major source of pollution. For example, only 10% of Canadians recycled their old smartphones last year according to the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association (CWTA).

Reducing the GHGs that our devices are responsible for is not a simple solution. Manufacturers and their partners can turn to more efficient processes and greater use of recyclable materials. Others can help as well. Energy suppliers need to turn to more renewable sources of energy while developers can focus on making their apps more battery efficient. Lastly but perhaps most important are the consumers who can ensure not only that old devices are recycled but that they and the companies they purchase their mobile devices from are focused on reducing the impact that this technology has on the environment.

Sources : Juniper Research // CNET