Environmental Impact of Smartphones

Participating in the second-hand device market is a great way to save money, but it's also the smart way to help save the environment. When you buy a used phone or sell your old one, you are being a responsible consumer. By reducing new consumption and reusing old devices, we can minimize the amount of damage we do to our environment and help make the world a better place.

How much better you ask?

Coltan ore contains a heat-resistant substance vital to the capacitors in every smart device. Up to 80% of the world's coltan reserves lie in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In less than two years of bloody warfare, the Rwandan army made of $250 million stealing coltan from the DR Congo.

Tin is the main component of every one of the 7000+ solder points on your tablet. Over one-third of the tin mined in the world comes from Indonesia, where workers die every week in illegal mining operations.

Manufacturing our devices takes a heavy toll as well. In 2007, 18 workers attempted suicide at a Foxconn plant—Apple's notorious Chinese manufacturing partner. 43.2% of China's state-monitored rivers are classified as unsuitable for human contact while recycling centers like Guiyu experience 6x higher miscarriage rates, 7/10 children with high blood-lead levels and the highest level of cancer-causing dioxins in the world.

By using Movaluate to repurpose an old device and by liking [like button] this page, you are doing your part as a global citizen to reduce our reliance on dangerous labor practices and promote awareness of these human rights issues.

How do we calculate our figures?

Our different tickers are based on real time stats as well as data and reports from organizations such as the EPA. For example, by knowing the action level for lead in drinking water (.015 ppm) and the average amount of lead per phone (.26g) we can calculate that the amount of averted water pollution by reusing a device:

  • 0.015g of lead can contaminate 1,000,000g (265 gal) of drinking water.
  • Therefore, 0.26g of lead can contaminate 4593 gallons of drinking water.

The average phone has 0.034g of gold, 0.35g of silver, 16g of copper and 0.015g of palladium. We take these amounts and multiply them by the real-time prices in the precious metals market.

  • 0.034g of gold @ $56.79/g = $1.93
  • 0.35g of silver @ $1.10/g = $0.39
  • 16g of copper @ $0.13/g = $2.10
  • 0.015g of palladium @ $23.35/g = $0.35

Repurposing your phone not only saves natural resources, but it also reduces energy waste. Recycling one million cell phones saves enough energy to power 185 U.S. household for a whole year.

  • One million recycled phones can power 185 homes for 525,949 minutes, or 97,300,565 minutes in total (525,949 x 185)
  • Therefore, your recycled phone saves us 97.3 minutes of power (97,300,565/1,000,000)

Now if we take these 3 figures—4593 gallons, $4.77, 97.3 minutes—and multiply them by the 130 million cell phones tossed aside annually in the United states, we get:

  • 597,090,000,000 gallons of drinking water
  • $620,100,000 worth of precious metals
  • 12,649,000,000 minutes of energy

All of our little phones can make a big difference. Let's work together to help reduce, reuse, and recycle.