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Innovations in the Cell Phone Industry and Sustainability Research Paper

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Updated: May 28th, 2020


Environmental sustainability has been receiving corporate attention in the 21st century. Various industries have been employing different measures on how to ensure environmental safety. The cell phone industry has also entered into this noble initiative in a broad dimension.

A polluted environment affects all the stakeholders including customers, suppliers, employees and the entire public. Therefore, firms should adhere to waste management practices in order to make good use of the by-products thereby enhancing environmental conservation techniques.

The cell phone industry makes products that are friendly to the environment and develops mobile applications that can help in enhancing environmental sustainability. These innovative products also help in keeping the environment clean.

Innovations in the Cell Phone Industry and Sustainability

Environmental sustainability entails making drastic decisions and actions towards protecting the environment. This initiative ensures that the environment is preserved thereby being able to support human life.

Currently, this issue has been among the world’s top agendas, from multinational companies to individual levels and from different government departments to media houses. Organizations are instituting measures that will have less negative effects on the environment than before.

Since all businesses have to use energy and release waste products, environmental sustainability tries to make these businesses engage in activities that make them sustainable in the present environs (Is Your Cell Phone Sustainable? 2011).

In a recent survey on companies’ thinking on climate change, McKinsey and Company (2008) found that the greatest percentage of executives surveyed consider climate change strategically significant, and about 60% take it into account in developing and marketing new products.

The cell phone industry has not only been at the fore front in implementing some strategies that will enable them survive in the present atmosphere but also come up with innovative products that can assist in ensuring environmental sustainability.

For instance, cell phone industries have tried to shrink their environmental footprints by manufacturing smaller and lighter cell phones (Technology & Environmental Sustainability Initiatives n.d.).

Smaller gadgets imply the use of less energy in transportation, recycling and reuse, less raw materials extracted and less shipping spaces. Currently, mobile phone manuals are distributed electronically thus reducing paper usage, which are always obtained from trees.

From this perspective, cell phone industries are using innovation to promote a greener ecosystem. In addition, cell phone industries have made solar powered phones. This innovative idea is reducing overreliance on non-renewable sources of energy like electricity.

Apart from the solar powered phones, most of the companies have designed energy efficient mobile phones; these phones take a long time before recharging thus saving money and minimizing gas emissions. This efficiency is seen in the way Nokia has reduced the amount of no-load energy by close to 90%.

In 2007, Nokia sent alert into phones in alerting the public to unplug their chargers while, not in use. Nokia boasts of creating all their devices with an environmental mind. An example is the Nokia Lumia 820 (Apps & services – Nokia 2013). It has an in-device user guide, packed in a small box made of renewable materials.

However, a small printed guide with highlighted usage tips is on Green page while full information is available on nokia.com (Sustainable mobile products 2013).

This phone has maps that help in locating directions for pedestrians and travellers; this innovative idea reduces overreliance on papers. The materials are all recyclable and are free from harmful metals like nickel and mercury.

Apple Company has powered all its facilities using renewable sources of energy. This initiative lessens carbon foot print, thereby raising the hopes of approaching a green ecosystem.

To add to that, Apple introduced iPhone 3G ships that had PVC free USB cables, headphones and a free display mercury-arsenic (Apple – Apple and the Environment 2013).

A continuous study into the environmental status report of the phone shows that it has a recyclable aluminium enclosure and an efficient power adapter that outperforms strictest global energy. These were in line with the ENERGY STAR requirement. Clearly, these features reduce environmental impact.

Even though a mobile phone is a small electronic gadget that causes a negligible impact to environmental degradation, a total number of 1.6 billion phones that were sold in 2011 cause a significant effect on the quantity of waste per unit. Therefore, this calls for measures on how to minimize waste in the environment.

The cell phone industries like Nokia, Motorola, AT & T have adopted the initiative of ensuring that they use non-plastic inserts and trays by the end of 2013 (Sustainable Mobile Phone n.d.). These packages such as the phone casing are to be made from less pollutant objects.

The organic chemicals that were to be used in making batteries were to be less volatile in order to minimize pollutions.

In addition, the cell phone industry has opted to recycle their products like battery contents and the casings which are environmentally friendly. In designing sustainable products, firms aim at yielding improvement in the environment and increased revenue, as well.

Smart phones are made in a way that one is able to communicate with a large group of people at a time; they have cameras and USB cables for transfer of data. Some of its applications that have proved useful to environmental activist are discussed below.

The first one is the Visibility App that measures the quality of air. One can use an Android Phone to take a picture of the atmosphere and transmits it to a centralized server to interpret, compare and generate the data (Ganguly 2012). Afterwards, the mobile operator receives a notification that indicates the extent of pollution.

This app was the work of the University of South Carolina’s Robotic lab. The next application is the Leaf View Project. This app helps in discovering new species of plants and animals in a crowded environment. After identification, one has to compare it with the central database.

Moreover, one can study the consequences of global warming on these species. Since global warming and climate change leads to species extinction; this app will assist in keeping these species within an environment hence helping to approach towards a greener ecosystem.

Goods Guide and 3rd Whale are the other applications. They promote a greener and sustainable environment by scanning of sustainable products and businesses in the locality and with the assistance of the GiftRocket application; one can purchase products through phone.

The 3rd Whale app uses a GPRS system to locate the businesses and products. There is also the VerdeEnergy and EnergySaver application in the smart phones. These apps help in tracking energy consumption and planning for efficient utilization of energy in homesteads.

A controlled energy usage enhances the cleanliness of an environment. The fifth app is the EcoSpeed and GreenMeter; they are used in tracking a vehicle’s fuel efficiency and daily movements. Of much interest is that EcoSpeed app can identify routes that consume less fuel than other routes.

Clearly, the apps help to minimize environmental pollution that could have resulted due to excess use of fuel. There is also the Bar code technology that can be used to control illegal felling of trees (Ganguly 2012).

In this technology, trees are assigned codes that are fed in the central database. Helveta Company is applying this technology to Forest cutters such that trees that are brought at the company without bar codes are deemed illegal. These smart phone applications, undoubtedly, assist in achieving environmental sustainability.

The giant cell phone industry Samsung developed Eco-Design Assessment system in 2004. This assessment technique was to ensure that all Samsung’s products complied with the global environmental regulations (Eco-Design 2013). In 2009, eco-rating system came in force.

In terms of product development there is the Samsung Galaxy Note II; in this smart phone, one can create, edit and store documents.

Using the S Pen, one can write and store data; therefore, this technology minimizes the use of papers, wooden pencils and plastic pens. Notably, elimination of these writing materials will help create sustainable and greener ecosystems.

The short life span of smart phones is a key challenge to the cell phone industries (Mobile Phones n.d.). This shows that consumers dispose a high number of these products annually thus resulting to immense environmental degradation.

These phones have a sizeable amount of minerals like gold and copper, toxic metals like mercury and lead in sizeable amounts. Since a high number of smart phones are disposed within a short time, the small amount of toxic metals multiply thus causing underground water and air pollution.

Additionally, cell phone industries face an uphill task of eliminating electromagnetic radiations that mobile phones emit to the environment. Specifically, mobile phones use microwave which is harmful to human health.

Some researchers had shown the relationship between biological effects and exposure to mobile phones. The WHO in 2011 also noted that use of mobile phones can cause health risks. Recently, some researchers found out that cell phones can affect the brain and salivary gland tumours.

These observations pose immense challenges to the cell phone industries in introducing their products in the market. In addition, another research showed that heavy mobile phone users are over 40% prone to contracting brain cancer (Mobile Phones n.d.).

Even though there are still uncertainties on these observations, consumers remain alert on the possible consequences of using large phones like the smart phones. Further, the manufacture and replacement of integrated circuits are the main cause of electronic waste.

Cell phone industries will have to institute mass education on the health risks of using mobile phones, since there is still no concrete evidence to prove the claimed effects. This initiative will be a costly one, but it will help in altering the perceptions of the public towards purchasing new mobile phones.

For instance, iPhones have wide surface area; one can assume that it has more radioactive emission thereby avoiding them. Additionally, these industries ought to carry out numerous researches in order to manufacture greener mobile phones (Johnstone 2013).)

Therefore, the mobile devices should have minimal heath risks, long lifespan, be recyclable at the end of life and perform efficiently.

App developers are constantly coming up with new apps that are useful as they aid the current activities. These apps are developed in the new sustainable products so that they continue serving their purpose. The cell phone industries should understand the nature of their markets when manufacturing their products.

For instance, they should make the applications look easy to understand so that all customers can buy and find it easy to use. Samsung should carry out more sale promotions on different media about their Galaxy cell phones than before.

The same should apply to the Apple Company in advertising their iPhones. Since environmentally friendly products have adverse favourable effects to the environment, these companies should clearly outline the overall benefits of their products to the customers (Mobile phone industry takes baby steps toward sustainability 2009).

Markedly, the companies should have a strategy or forecast on how to serve different customers who cannot afford some phones of high prices.

The cell phone industry has adopted environmentally friendly approaches that if all industries can replicate, then the environment will remain sustainable for all.

From their energy conservation measures like Apple’s use of renewable source of energy to development of environmentally-friendly batteries that use less energy in the long run, they are working towards a sustainable environment.

The industry has also adopted phone recycling mechanisms and targets educating their consumers on these measures. Through innovation, the firms have made tremendous steps towards approaching a greener ecosystem.

This is evident from the entire essay. However, the cell phone companies have to develop greener mobile phones with applications which will help in enhancing environmental sustainability.


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