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With COP27 just days away, the GSMA is taking a stand on a sustainable future for mobile devices, with a vision that requires a ‘zero waste’ supply chain and longer-lasting smartphones.

The trade body that represents mobile operators and organisations across the mobile ecosystem have published the Strategy Paper for Circular Economy: Mobile devices, in conjunction with Ethos, a Swedish management consultancy specialising in sustainability, and Tele2, who lead a GSMA member project group on the issue.

The document lays out a vision of “devices with as long a lifetime as possible, made with 100% recyclable and recycled content, 100% renewable energy, and where no device ends up as waste.

Currently the typical mobile device is used for around three years, but has a technical lifespan of four to seven years. However the optimal lifetime for a mobile phone in terms of minimising its climate impact could be at least 25 years which the GSMA believes is achievable based on their ‘circularity model’ focusing on the principles of “maximised longevity” and “zero waste”.

Steven Moore, Head of Climate Action at GSMA and Mobile Sector Lead for the UN Climate Champions said: “The mobile industry is making real progress on circularity, but there’s a lot more to do to reduce the environmental impact of devices we rely on every day to stay connected. By setting out a new vision of systemic change for the sector, we’re laying the groundwork for the mobile industry to reduce material waste and increase the longevity of devices.”

The GSMA point out that although mobile phones have a positive impact on people’s lives, they have both positive and negative impacts on the environment, and that up to 21.4 million tonnes of CO2 emissions could be saved annually by 2030 if the lifespan of the typical mobile phone was extended by one year.

Telco’s around the world are showing ever more interest in sustainability issues as demonstrated by the number of outstanding entries in this years World Communication Awards. The winner of this years Sustainability Award was Vertical Bridge, first telecom tower company in the world to become 100 percent carbon neutral, whilst the WCA judges also highly commended Orange Poland for their #OrangeGoesGreen climate strategy launched early 2021.

Read more on these issues in the Total Telecom sustainability channel

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