The economic effects of COVID-19 are contributing to the largest reduction in carbon dioxide emissions since the end of World War II according to Newsweek. This year would entail the first reduction of carbon dioxide emissions since the 1.4% drop after the 2008 financial crisis.
The economic standstill of COVID-19 is predicted to decrease global carbon emissions by 5% in 2020 according to Utility Dive, a website that covers topics on trends in the utility industry.
This decline is due to less transportation-use and less demand on the power sector from commercial businesses; the two major drivers of air pollution. Fewer people are traveling and working in order to maintain social distancing to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
New research out of the University of Surrey in England finds that current mobile phone business models are having a greater environmental impact that previous thought.
The study was published this week in the International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment. The researchers found that current mobile phone contracting practices have led to the manufacturing of more smartphones which require large amounts of natural resources such as gold, silver, and copper. These practices have also led to increased CO2 emissions.
The researchers calculated that there are approximately 85 million unused phones in the U.K. Combined these phones contain roughly 4 tons of gold and have used up about £110 million or more than $170,000,000 worth of resources. Additionally, the manufacturing of these devices has led to the equivalent of 84,000 tons of CO2 being released into the atmosphere.
“The current business model of mobile contracts encourages consumers to upgrade frequently, regardless of whether their current phone is fit for purpose. Our study shows that there is little incentive for people to recycle old mobiles. Unfortunately this leaves many unused devices lingering in drawers, until they are eventually thrown away and end up in landfill. This isn’t a trend that can continue if we are to have the mobile lifestyle we want, while still ensuring a sustainable future,” lead author Dr. James Suckling said in a press release.
The authors suggested utilizing a “cloud-based product service system” which would lessen the need for complex processing systems that require large quantities of resources. The researchers also suggested a “take-back” clause for mobile service contracts which would encourage customers to retain devices for longer periods of time and to return devices to the manufacturer when the contract expires.
The study also found that people tend to hold on to old phones and instead suggest that these devices be properly recycled so their materials can be reused.