Unless you’ve been asleep for the last few weeks you’ll probably know that the iPhone 5 is released today. There have apparently been queues outside Apple stores around the world since yesterday (or maybe earlier).
But not everyone is looking forward to the release, particularly since, according to sustainability company Sustain, the new iPhone has a carbon footprint more than 70% greater than the old one.
The latest release from Apple is 20% lighter than the previous version, helped by an aluminium chassis in place of the stainless steel and glass backing. But, according to Dr Craig Jones, principle associate at Sustain, “Despite its lighter frame, the carbon footprint of producing the iPhone 5 is 73% higher than the iPhone 4S. To add to this, the iPhone 5 releases 57kg of CO2e in its production, in comparison to 33 kg of CO2e for the model it’s replacing. Over its entire lifecycle the iPhone 5 consumes 75kg of CO2e, which includes material production, transport, consumer use and disposal. However the iPhone 4S comes in over a quarter lower at 55kg of CO2e.”
The data used to make the assessment comes from Apple’s official website and the environmental product declarations that the company produces for its product lines.
With Apple predicted to sell 170 million IPhone 5s over the next year, the extra carbon per handset would result in 3.4 million tonnes of CO2e more being released into the atmosphere.
I couldn’t agree more with Dr Jones’ final comment: “As the level of scrutiny for companies and their carbon footprints increases, it’s seems odd to say the least that a business of such stature hasn’t adequately considered the carbon output the iPhone 5’s production.” In fact Apple seems to take a cavalier attitude to environmental issues at the best of times.
Of course not everyone even agrees that the iPhone 5 is that great a product anyway, particularly (of course) Samsung.
But then again I don’t know what the carbon footprint is of a Samsung Galaxy S3. Probably best not to buy a smartphone at all (I haven’t), but if you’ve got one then keep it for as long as possible.