BRUSSELS - We consume one phone every two to three years on average. That’s not good for the environment nor for the climate. In Europe more than two hundred million smartphones are being sold annually. This market is highly dominated by Apple, Samsung and Huawei. So they determine the level of durability for those devices, and how easy it is to repair them. On one hand our phones often die very fast and we don’t get it fixed, on the other hand the consumer is being seduced by the latest technological advancements. The repair industry could play an important role for our smartphone and could on top create local jobs. Problems that require fixing are most often a broken screen or battery. If we systematically repair those problems we immediately increase the lifetime of those devices and all of the resources they hold. The article investigates where the key problems are, what the government should do about it and what we as consumers can do to help.

A lot of the materials in a smartphone are not at all being recycled today. Next to that, producing the average smartphone emits more than 60 kg CO2 equivalent. If we rely more on repair, having a good phone case and a screen protector we already come a long way. If all Europeans would manage to keep their phone one year longer than now, we would emit 2.1 megaton less CO2 annually by 2030, which equals taking a million cars from the road. With an average price of 530 EUR per device, European consumers could annually spend an estimated 28 billion euro in a more sustainable way and create more local jobs.

In the coming months Louis will publish a series of articles on the overconsumption of consumer electronics and the effects on the environment, climate and our wallet. Next to the smartphone, products like laptops, fridges and washing machines are being examined. The research has been constructed based on input and interviews with academics, electronics manufacturers, ngo’s, policy makers and the industry.

Photo: © Louis Lammertyn

Team members

Louis Lammertyn

Louis Lammertyn is a freelance photographer and consultant.

€ 7.050 allocated on 20/03/2020.


Nee, je smartpone is niet onherstelbaar kapot, MO.be, 20/01/2021. (in Dutch)

need resources for your own investigative story?

Journalismfund Europe's flexible grants programmes enable journalists to produce relevant public interest stories with a European mind-set from international, national, and regional perspectives.


support independent cross-border investigative journalism

We rely on your support to continue the work that we do. Make a gift of any amount today.