Low Carbon life - Beware of carbon footprint through your cell phone


(Animation production:
 Abacus In Motion Company Limited)

Mobile phones, also called cell phones, have become daily necessities of adults and children nowadays, though they were once luxury items over two decades ago. According to statistics published by the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer, cell phone ownership has reached 152% in 2007, meaning each Hong Kong resident has an average of 1.5 cell phones. A scene that we encountered inside the MTR compartment where everyone in a row of six was holding different latest model of cell phones, while only one person was actually communicating, the rest were either surfing the internet or playing games. Everyone with the head buried in cell phone seems inevitable in digital era, while no cell phone in hand seems a shame.

The huge cell phone market enables rapid innovations. From the first generation used only for communicating, to ˇ§smart phoneˇ¨ now integrates different functions of photo-taking, music-playing, internet-surfing, and so forth. Cell phone producers keep launching new models, generating a trend like fashion and accessories, and tempting users to replace their phones frequently to gain more profits. A study conducted by Friends of the Earth (HK) earlier revealed that teenagers change their personal cell phones in less than 20 months on average, i.e. 600 days. Within the year end of 2008 to October 2009, the market has launched over 60 new cell phone models, which equals to incredibly 6 models per month on average!

A research pointed out that nearly 80% of CO2 emissions from cell phones come from the manufacturing process. In other words, changing cell phones frequently will indirectly increase greenhouse gas emissions and exacerbate climate change. According to a worldwide statistic, it reached 4.6 billion cellular subscriptions by the end of 2009 globally. Producing each cell phone emits 16 kg of CO2, it implies a release of 73 million tonnes of CO2, equivalent to taking 54 million round-trip flights from Hong Kong to London!

Using cell phones also emits CO2 because of energy consumption in cell phone communication facilities such as receiving stations. A report revealed that calling with cell phone for one minute produces 0.057 kg CO2, which means 1,250 kg of CO2 will be emitted in a year if one cell phone is used one hour per day.

In view of the advancing mobile communication technology, ˇ§smart phoneˇ¨ starts to gain popularity, which is predicted to trigger more CO2 emission directly and indirectly. Itˇ¦s no doubt that cell phones have contributions to our lives, but as a responsible consumer who cares for the environment, we should avoid blindly pursuing the new models whenever they launch. Choose a cell phone with functions that suit your needs, and try to prolong its life-span by not changing new model frequently, it does not only help reducing electronic waste, but also benefits in alleviating climate change.

Nowadays, social media is so popular that many cell phones are equipped with internet functions, allowing users to communicate with friends and share information on the internet at anytime. Network service providing is essential, yet it is one of the main contributor of CO2 emissions. We will further discuss this topic in the next e-Bulletin.






Cell phones make people closer, but worsen the problems of electronic wastes and climate change.

"Smart phone" become muti-functional with new models keep releasing like fashion, tempting users to change new ones.


References 1
References 2
References 3
References 4
References 5

If you have any questions or comments , please write to join@foe.org.hk
Tel: (852) 2528-5588 eFax: (852) 2529-2777 Friends of the Earth (HK) www.foe.org.hk

Copyright 2010 Friends of the Earth (HK) . All rights reserved.

FoE Facebook FoE Youtube