Random Bits of Useful Information


Recoverable Materials from Electronics

Raw Materials in iPhones

Source: Green Care Conf 2018

For every 100.000 devices

Element Kgs/10.000 devices
Aluminum 1900kg
Gold 0.97kg
Silver 7.5kg
Rare earth elements 11kg
Tungsten 93kg
Copper 710kg
Palladium 0.10kg
Tin 42kg
Cobalt 770kg
Tantalium 1.8kg

Raw Materials cell phones

EPA Data

For every 1 million devices (original data in pounds).

Element Pounds/1M devices Kgs/1M devices
Copper 35274 16000.018
Silver 772 350.17333
Gold 75 34.01943
Palladium 33 14.968549

Elements in a Smartphone

Source: Oko-Institut 2016

Material Quantity MU Where
Aluminum 22.16 g Case
Copper 15.12 g Wires, shielding, PCB, speakers, vibration
Plastics 9.53 g Case
Magnesium 5.54 g Case
Cobalt 5.38 g Battery
Tin 1.21 g Solder past
Iron 0.88 g Case
Tungsten 0.44 g Vibration alarm
Silver 0.31 g Soldier paste, PCB
Neodymium 0.05 g Magnets of speakers
Gold 0.03 g Electronic components, PCB
Tantalum 0.02 g Capacitors
Palladium 0.01 g Electronic components, PCB
Praseodymium 0.01 g Magnets of speakers
Indum 0.01 g Display
Yttrium 0.0004 g LED-backlights
Gallium 0.0004 g LED-backlights
Gadolinium 0.0002 g LED-backlights
Europium 0.0001 g LED-backlights
Cerium 0.00003 g LED-backlights
Others 99.29 g Glass, ceramics, semiconductors

Carbon Footprint of a Fairphone

Source: Green Care Conf 2018

By Phase

Phase kg CO2E
Production 35
Transport 2
Use 6
Eol 0

By Component

Components Kg CO2E
Core Module 62.5
Assembly 13.5
Battery Module 5.4
Display Module 7.5
Packaging 0.6
Camera Module 5.4
Top module 3.6
Back cover 0.2
Bottom module 1.5


Barriers to repair: assess of EU policies

  • legal barriers (EULA), lack of awareness about rights, misinformation in warranties
  • access to spare parts
  • access to manuals
  • software “doping” (access to drivers, …)/software protections
  • the total price of repair
  • consumer preferences


  • in Japan there are shops which sell broken products; price depend upon repairability
  • some producers are making it more difficult for independent repair shops; examples: Nikon, Apple sued an independent repair shop
  • fragmentation of devices (see pictures) requires a bunch of information to be able to actually repair a device
  • A recycler sent to jail, because of his activity: https://www.theverge.com/2018/4/27/17286810/e-waste-recycling-microsoft-eric-lundgren-prison-restore-discs https://www.activistpost.com/2018/04/e-waste-recycler-sentenced-to-over-a-year-in-prison-for-fixing-old-pcs-and-selling-them.html
  • Right to repair requires: service information, tools (e.g., screwdrivers), diagnostic software
  • Computers with best repairability: Dell, HP, Lenovo
  • in the US things are moving towards asserting the right of repair: in MA a poll passed; it is now unlawful to put stickers which warn about the warranty being void; DMCA (copyright law) does not block the right to repair (Eric Lundgren is going to prison for 15 months for selling restore disks for computers, which would extend their longevity and allow them to be resold to new users. A federal appeals court in Miami rejected the appeal in his case this week, upholding a federal district judge’s ruling that Lundgren violated Microsoft’s copyright by selling the disks)
  • Greenpeace: “Guide to Greener Electronics”(2 017)
  • Liability vs. Repairability: in the automotive sector there do not seem to be issues; making information available about how to service a product might reduce the liability of a company

Difficulties in recycling materials from ewaste

  • Miniaturization (decreases volume of elements)
  • Integrated batteries (safety hazard) (There is WP article on fires caused by Li+ batteries)
  • Layering and gluing
  • Materials’ identification

Why People Change Phones

Motivations to change phone

Source: GreenCare Conf, 2018

It is important that products last long to save money 93
It is important to use products for a long time to protect the environment 91
It is exhausting that there are som many new models 71
It is a great feeling to have a new device 53
It is important to me to have state-of-the-art technology 51
New devices mean a high quality of life for me 46
I don’t have enough time for product maintenance 30
I like to discuss new smartphones 29
I like to show when I have something new 26
I don’t mind when something is broken, because then I buy something new 16
I think it is normal to have a new smartphone every year 14


Why changing your phone

Source: GreenCare Conf, 2018, Talk by Fraunhofer, adapted from handyrepairtur123

Display 52%
Other damages 14%
Software 10%
Water damage 8%
Battery 5%
Back cover 5%
Loudspeaker 5%

Raw Materials Factsheet

Gold Mining and Electronics

(Source: GreenCare Conference 2018)

Impact of mining 1t of gold:

  • 18,000 tons of CO2e released
  • 260,000 tons of water used
  • 200,000 GJ of energy consumed
  • 1,270,000 tons of waste solids produced

Gold density in Electronics:

  • There is up to 800x more gold in a ton of motherboards than in a ton of gold ore
  • Every year 60 USDM worth of gold and silver go to waste in the US from phones alone


  • Co has exceptional properties (e.g., resistance to high temperature) and it is in great demand (price risen 250% in 2017) from unstable countries (Congo, Zambia Central African Republic)
  • Sources:
    • Primary production/extraction from ores: 65% (10.000 tons/year)
    • Secondary production: 35% (recovered from batteries, super-alloys and hard metals)
  • 160M laptops sold in 2017, average Co content 0.003 kg/laptop, implies 5000 tons of cobalt recoverable at end of life (yearly)
  • Car batteries of electric cars (Tesla) contain 7Kg each