University of Twente Student Theses


A simulation of the ecological impact of three smartphone strategies

Schooltink, F. (2022) A simulation of the ecological impact of three smartphone strategies.

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Abstract:Smartphone technology has seen an exponential boom in popularity and complexity ever since the release of the original iPhone in the late 2000s. New smartphone models are coming out every year. In first-world countries, smartphones are usually replaced after 2.5 years of operation even if the phone is still functional [28]. This rate of replacement has led experts to sound the alarm bell in hopes of lessening the smartphones industry’s ecological impact. Smartphone companies are adjusting their business strategies to be more environmentally friendly. Some information exists on the effectiveness of some of these strategies but thus far there is a lack of comparisons, and the effectiveness of alternate strategies has not yet been tested. To fill this void this paper aims to examine and compare the effectiveness of three smartphone strategies: production process refinement, modular technology, and refurbishment. Three steps were performed to find the best strategy. First, a quantitative literature review was conducted to determine the aspects of each of the three strategies. Information on emissions, amount of waste, and lifespan was collected. This data was then used to construct a simulational ecological impact model. The results of this model in combination with the information collected during the literature review were then used to determine the most effective strategy. It was estimated using the ecological impact model that at a 5% deployment of strategies a refurbishment strategy, with 36.7 kg of CO2 per and 131.308 g of e-waste per smartphone, is the most effective strategy at reducing ecological impact. This would mean a 4.7% reduction in emissions and a 4.8% reduction in e-waste. The refurbishment strategy also has major downsides. Recycling still requires regular models to be purchased. It also requires these old regular smartphones to meet a certain quality standard to be eligible for refurbishment. Another problem is that western consumer markets currently show very little interest in refurbishing[30].
Item Type:Essay (Bachelor)
Faculty:EEMCS: Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science
Subject:54 computer science
Programme:Computer Science BSc (56964)
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