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Smartphones should be designed to last

Hardy GraupnerAugust 15, 2016

A lot of consumers in many parts of the world are unhappy about the way smartphones are produced. The want them to last longer and thus lessen their environmental footprint, a new Greenpeace study has shown.

Young woman with smartphone
Image: picture-alliance/Bildagentur-online/Tetra-Images/Isakson

Greenpeace East Asia commissioned Ipsos MORI to conduct a survey on what consumers in six industrialized nations thought about the manufacturing process involved in making smartphones.

A vast majority of respondents in the US, Mexico, South Korea, Russia, China and Germany aged 18 to 75 said production processes should be changed so as to considerably decrease the negative ecological impact of smartphones on the environment.

"The humble smartphone puts enormous strain on our environment from the moment they're produced, often with hazardous chemicals, to the moment they're disposed of in huge e-waste sites," Greenpeace East Asia Global IT Campaigner Chih An Lee said in a press release on Monday.

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Waste of resources

"Over half of respondents across the countries surveyed agree that manufacturers are releasing too many new models, many designed to only last a few years. In fact, most users actually want their phones to be more easily dismantled, repaired and recycled."

Four in five respondents said it was absolutely vital for smartphones to be easily repaired, if damaged - a feature that's hardly ever seen right now in phones from major producers such as Samsung or Apple.

Nearly half of those polled believed phone manufacturers should be more responsible for an efficient recycling process. The sentiment was strongest in Germany (61 percent in favor).

"If tech brands want to lead us into the future, they need to move towards closed-loop production and embrace the circular economy - something that can be good for their profits, for people and for the planet," the study noted.