Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of Mobile Phones

Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of Mobile Phones

We have to start by saying that life cycle describes and analyses all the actions and materials that happen during the production, use, and recycling the cell phones that we use every single day wherever we are.

At the same time, it is also included what happens with the phone after you finish with its consumption.

One of the biggest reasons for determining the life cycle analysis is to create a better understanding and appreciation of resources that manufacturers are using to produce objects that we consume in our daily lives.

You can check your pockets to see that use of cell phones is vital for society, mainly because it is widely used among numerous people across the globe.

For instance, in the USA in 1985, there were only half of a million cell phones in use, but the number increased in 2006 to 233 million.

Apart from that in case, a person in the USA uses a cell phone, the period of usage is approximately year and a half, which means that more than 150 million cell phones are replaced every single year.

The question is, what happens with discarded phones and how that affects our environment in general. That is why we decided to present your cell phone life cycle assessment:

Cell Phone Components

The first step in determining the life cycle of cell phones is to understand its components:

Casing - This particular component comes with plastic housing, which includes the outer layer of each cell phone that we use.

Screen - In most cases, we are talking about LCD or liquid crystal display. The screen is how we interface with other users, and when it comes to smartphones, the way we connect on the internet and so on.

Green Board - Similarly as any technological device, the green board contains all electronic components and chips that will allow it to function the way you want it.

Keypad - The old school cell phones feature plastic keypad, and that was the way people used to input text messages and dial the phone. However, the keyboard became obsolete because the touch screen became the best way of controlling everything,

Speaker and Microphone - This particular addition will allow you to speak and hear the callers.

Antenna - It features an antenna that will provide you the best possible reception.

Battery - With it, you will get the power that you need so that you can use the phone.

Charger - Finally, the adapter that you will use to charge a battery is also a requirement that you should consider.

Manufacturing Process

When it comes to the manufacturing process, you should have in mind that a few pounds of raw materials are required so that you can use the cell phone with ease. Even though it weighs only a few ounces, this is mandatory consideration.

For instance, fiberglass and plastic are essential for circuit board and housing, as well as other metals that we can find inside. For example, it requires a thin coat of gold over the circuit board, and chips are soldered together inside the circuit board by using metal components.

You can find metal in the battery as well, which means that you should understand that cell phones feature arsenic, lead, and mercury, which makes them hazardous waste. For instance, you will be able to recycle 200 cell phones to create a gold ring.


The processes that happen during the lifetime are also vital, and we can differentiate them into three elements: the growth that comes with their popularity, projected lifespan, and energy required charging them throughout the lifetime.

The Growth

Have in mind that four billion cell phones were used worldwide by 2008, which means that over half of the global population had at least one phone. Of course, the continents with developing countries feature the highest growth rates, which say that Africa is followed by Asia.

For instance, in Africa, the growth rate is twice much than average, and more than 60% of global cell phone subscriptions come from developing countries. This happens due to low costs and second-hand phones that come from them.

That is why India and China are world leaders with the number of people that are mobile subscribers and users, and they are followed by the USA. Other factors such as growth within the industrial system and countries are slowing down because people are using cell phones.

For example, within the USA, there were 275 million subscriptions in the country where there are 300 million people approximately. Since the massive production of a cell phone is increasing, there should be concerns about where they will end up after you stop using them.

Projected Lifespan

Have in mind that the average consumer in the USA uses a cell phone for approximately 18 months before discarding it. We can differentiate numerous factors that will contribute to this particular idea.

For instance, most contracts and subscriptions tend to last two years, which means that companies are encouraging customers to upgrade their phones as soon as the period finishes.

In typical situations, customers will take advantage of discounts, and that is why they purchase a new home while leaving the old one to rot. By knowing this, the companies design their phones to last between one and two years, just after the contract expires.

Most of them do not find a way on land fields, but they are stockpiled in drawers, basements, and closets. That happens due to the expense of some phones because people do not want to throw them away since they invested in it.

Energy Used For Charging

The largest cell phone manufacturers in the world have decided to make their phones more energy-efficient than before.

That is the main reason why they created studies that presented an idea that 30% of the life cycle energy of cell phone comes from usage and two-thirds of it from charming.

The problem lies in the idea that people are charging phones even when they reach full batteries. That creates another problem as well because you will use energy without any additional reason, which produces carbon emissions.