Lack of smartphone sustainability in Switzerland hits the environment

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crowd with phones

According to the National Statistical Office, awareness of sustainability in the digital sector remains a significant minority among Swiss citizens.

Keystone/Peter Kluntzer

According to the Federal Statistical Office (FSO), almost half of Swiss citizens are still using old smartphones, tablets and laptops. Sustainability in the digital field is therefore still in its infancy.

Between 66% and 80% of the digital sector’s carbon emissions come from consumer devices, the FSO said on Monday in its report on ICT (information and communications technology) equipment and sustainability. In Switzerland, 8.2% of electricity consumption is attributed to the entertainment, information and communication media sector.

It says more attention needs to be paid to sustainability when purchasing and disposing of smartphones, tablets and laptops. Most carbon emissions occur during device manufacturing, not during device use. In the case of smartphones, manufacturing accounts for at least 80% of total carbon emissions.

+ Switzerland demands more sustainability from companies and countries

The lifespan of smartphones is also very short, estimated at 2-3 years in Switzerland.

Extended use

To minimize the environmental impact of digital technology, it is important to extend the useful life of equipment through repair, resale, or refurbishment. Additionally, recycling of the raw materials it contains should be encouraged.

However, according to FSO, 48% of internet users leave their old smartphones in a drawer. This percentage is only slightly lower (44%) for laptops and tablets.

The situation is different for unused desktop computers. A quarter of people keep it at home and 45% dispose of it as e-waste. Only a fifth of people recycle or dispose of their smartphones as e-waste, compared to 25% of laptops and tablets.

When compared internationally, Switzerland seems to be on the good side overall. However, FSO notes that this research shows that awareness of sustainability in the digital sector remains a significant minority of the population.

Translated from French by DeepL/ts

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