A new report from analyst firm Juniper Research claims the smartphone industry has the opportunity to save 30 million tonnes in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions over the next five years, particularly by targeting component manufacturing.
With smartphones taking over from mass market handsets, the industry will need to streamline its operations, say analysts.
The ‘Green Handset & Tablet’ report estimates that supply chain activities – raw material extraction, component manufacturing, device assembly and transportation – result in twice as much GHG emissions per smartphone, in comparison with other handsets.
With these devices proving more popular with consumers, vendors face a serious test of their green credentials: how to make devices smarter and more sustainable.
With the company predicting that supply chain GHG emissions will reach 24 million tonnes this year alone, and the number of smartphones shipped per annum set to nearly double over the next five years, the industry will need to adopt the aggressive strategies set out in Juniper’s report – but the rewards will be huge.
According to report author Daniel Ashdown: 'This 30 million tonne saving is the equivalent of the GHGs emitted by 5.3 million cars in a year (one out of six cars in the UK, or three out of every 100 worldwide), or that of a 62 billion mile car journey. Over 30 billion tonnes of CO2 are produced worldwide every year.'
Green handset shipments will reach 392 million by 2017 – more than 10 times the number the company expects to be shipped in 2012.
The analyst firm says mobile network operators can play a crucial role as green champions due to their unique customer-facing position, including recycling initiatives and providing eco-ratings at point-of-sale.
Smart devices are partly powered by the cloud, and vendors need to consider the impact of data centres as part of the impact of smartphones and tablets.