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Ambassador report

Ambassador report

[Ambassador report] [thematic] Environmental costs that come with upgrading our devices

by Yuqing Yang | 21-05-2020 23:15 Comments 9 Comments recommendations 0 recommendations

Hi everyone. Let me ask you a question first? Have you ever realized that upgrading your device could create significant environmental cost? 

Yes indeed, we live in an era of technology, where frequent upgrading of our devices seem natural and common, but very few realized the danger posed each time when upgrading our device.

Of the world’s seven plus billion inhabitants, more than 6 billion have cell phone access, while only 4.5 billion have working toilets. Could you even imagine that? Many believed that since cell phones are made of metals, they will be properly taken care of during disposal when they tossed them away. However, the number of cell phones recycled remains low, with most estimates at less than 10%.

And the even more disturbing fact is that every process involved with a cell phone or any other electronic device involve environmental costs. This includes manufacture, use and disposal (plus all the transportation that requires combustion of fossil fuels). Here is the life cycle of a typical electronic device with the environmental impacts that involved. 


Now let us calculate the cost that comes with a phone. 

During manufacturing process, our cell phone, composing of a lot of different parts, many of which are made of materials with environmental negatives. This includes various metals, plastics and alloys. We have to extract the metal ores which destruct our natural landscape, and crude oil are also extracted to produce plastics. All these steps require the input of energy, which comes from the burning of fuels.

After we produced them, we have to package the phone and transport it. In the global market, extensive packaging is not a rare phenomenon. This involves paper from trees, plastics from petroleum, and energy during the packaging process.  

Furthermore, after we purchase them, we need electrical power (from burning fossil fuels) to charge the device. If we then disposed it, all the additional costs will come along. A number of the metals in our phones are considered toxic, and if they are released in the landfill overtime, they could impair the quality of groundwater and cause water pollution.

With all these environmental cost that comes along, the average life expectancy of cell phones in the US is about 12 months and 18 months globally. Let alone the environmental costs of transportation at each stage of this life cycle.

In conclusion, I would like to share a few suggestions to avoid contributing to this huge environmental costs resulted from e-waste. We should always be careful with our devices and keep it ‘protected’. Do not follow the trend and purchase the newest device in the market. Become fully aware of the environmental costs that come with an device and change the device only when it is really necessary.


Mcintosh, Alan, and Jennifer Pontius. “Human Impacts on the Global Landscape.” Case Studies for Integrating Science and the Global Environment, Sept. 2016, pp. 439–460., doi:10.1016/b978-0-12-801712-8.00004-4.



Sang Su Mentor

  • Sang Su Mentor says :
    Hi Yuqing Yang, this is a mentor, Sang Su Lee.

    Thank you for your detailed analysis of how producing a new cell phone causes the environmental cost. Indeed, it would not be exaggeration to say that every one in the world is using cell phones. Amid people who purchase cell phones, some people change their cell phones to the newest version very frequently. However, after reading your article, those people would have opportunity to think about their behaviors.

    Green Cheers~!
    Posted 28-05-2020 12:45

Taehyun Mentor

  • Taehyun Mentor says :
    Hello Yuqing Yang, this is mentor Taehyun!

    Thank you for mentioning an important issue! I take this matter very seriously, too. These days, fast condensing trends are prevalent throughout society, and in the case of electronics like these, plastic enclosures are a problem if they are buried without recycling in a proper way, but they can cause a variety of problems, including the suspension of the resource circulation of rare earth metals inside and the release of toxic substances. I hope the habit of saving things more will become a whole society!

    Thank you for the report!

    Green cheers!
    Posted 26-05-2020 23:09

Kushal Naharki

  • Kushal Naharki says :
    Hello yang

    I do hope that you are fine and doing great with your works.
    Thank you for your report about Environmental costs that come with upgrading our devices

    Green Cheers from Nepal :)
    Keep writing great reports.
    We are eager to read more reports from you.

    Kushal Naharki

    Posted 24-05-2020 22:05

Aida Daeichiyan karandi

Heemani Singh

  • Heemani Singh says :
    Greetings Yang,
    I hope you are doing great
    Thank you for sharing your report and awaring us.
    Keep sharing
    Hope to learn more from you
    Posted 23-05-2020 11:42

Sonika Pariyar

  • Sonika Pariyar says :
    Hello Yang!!

    I hope you are fine and doing great!

    Indeed report!!
    The things we should realized has been mentioned in the report!
    Thanks for sharing ! I really liked you report!


    Posted 22-05-2020 22:18

Jasmine Karki

  • Jasmine Karki says :
    I do hope you are all good there..

    Thank you so much for sharing this report with us!!
    It was great to go through it.Wonderful report!!
    Hope to learn more from you on upcoming days..

    Green cheers
    Jasmine karki
    Posted 22-05-2020 16:03

Asmita Gaire

  • Asmita Gaire says :
    Greetings yang
    I hope you are doing well
    Great piece of report with meaningful suggestion.
    This is one of the reason why I like about Tunza, nice report.
    Thank you so much for this report
    Keep writing
    Green cheers
    Asmita Gaire
    Posted 22-05-2020 13:52


  • ALOK DHAKAL says :
    Thanks for your report!
    Posted 22-05-2020 00:58

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