TU.3.E || Circular Economy and Circular Society in LCM

Itten, René; Jattke, Marleen; Bieser, Jan; Stucki, Matthias

The environmental impact of laptops, tablets and smartphones summarised as mobile Internet-enabled devices (MIEDs) is highly relevant and growing. The global market penetration of smartphones is likely to reach 50 % in 2021 with 3.6 billion reported smartphone users in the year 2020. The environmental impact of MIEDs are dominated by the production phase with a relevant but significantly lower contribution of the use phase. For this reason, extending the service lifetime of MIEDs and thereby reducing the number of devices produced is a promising strategy to reduce their ecological footprint. However, extending the service lifetime of MIEDs can also cause rebound effects that can partly compensate the saved environmental impacts due to lifetime-extension. In our project, we systematically analyse direct and indirect environmental implications of interventions to extend the service lifetime of MIEDs. We quantify the direct reduction of environmental impacts due to an increased service lifetime of MIEDs as well as potential rebound effects due to induction, imperfect substitution as well as re-spending for a set of 9 different interventions including subscription based discounts, advanced repair fees, re-selling services and repair services. We apply a comprehensive set of environmental indicators including greenhouse gas emissions, mineral resource use, primary energy demand, particulate matter, and others. This systematic assessment of the environmental implications of interventions allows to identify the interventions that have the highest potential to reduce environmental impacts and to identify measures to minimize rebound effects. With this analysis, business models can be developed that promote a more sustainable use of MIEDs.