Press release 2015-12-11

86 kg waste produced by a single mobile phone

A mobile phone gives rise to 86 kg of waste material, in the form of for instance mining waste and slag products. The cost of climate emissions for the same phone is estimated to 140 Swedish Crowns. The finished cell phone weighs about 169 grams and costs about 6 000 Swedish Crowns.

Swedish Waste Management and IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute have in a study estimated the environmental footprints from eleven common consumer products, primarily in the food, textiles and electronics area, and also appreciated the climate costs of any waste generated during the production of the product.

– Consumers have difficulties to see the overall impact on the environment from their own consumption. They only see the waste that occurs when they throw their discarded products but they never see all the waste that is generated during the production. This makes it more difficult for consumers to change their behaviour to more sustainable one, says Åsa Stenmarck at IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute.

In the study, IVL and Swedish Waste Management have developed a method for calculating products’ environmental footprints; this to improve the consumers’ knowledge and awareness regarding the total amount of waste products their consumption creates.

Some other examples of environmental footprints (kg waste / product) are that a portable computer produces 1 200 kg of waste, and a drill 52 kg. A kilogram of beef generates more waste (4 kg) than one kilogram of chicken (860 grams). A litre of milk has a relatively low footprint (97 grams) but this increases by approximately 10 percent when the milk package (9 grams) is included. The footprint of a pair of cotton pants is 25 kg, 17 kg for workout clothes and 12 kg for leather shoes.

– The results clearly show that there are major environmental benefits when it comes to producing fewer products, more sustainable products and actually using the products we already have for a longer period of time. This reinforces the argument that we all should think about how we consume and encourages companies to adopt more sustainable business models. Mend, borrow and reuse is an important pathway towards sustainability, says Åsa Lindskog from Swedish Waste Management.

Read more in the report "Produkters totala avfall – studie om avfallets fotavtryck och klimatkostnader"

For more information contact: 
Åsa Stenmarck or Anna-Carin Gripwall, Waste Sweden, acg@avfallsverige.se, phone +46 70-662 61 28