Can a Smartphone Be Eco-Friendly? 5 Mind-Blowing Ways Companies Are Reducing Their Impact on the Environment
Climate change is undeniable. The US National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) warns that in just 50 years, nearly 3.5 billion people could live in uninhabitable conditions unless CO₂ emissions are drastically reduced.
Industries across the board are vigorously preparing for climate change and addressing environmental problems. Here, we've spotlighted some remarkable cases from various sectors to both astonish and inspire you.
Key Benefits of Eco-Friendly Business Practices and Sustainability
Corporate environmental management and positive human interaction with the environment offer numerous benefits. Here are the clear advantages of operating an eco-friendly business:
Meeting customers' expectations
A Cone Communications report revealed that 63% of Americans want large corporations to drive positive environmental and social change. Furthermore:
- 76% of Americans believe companies should actively combat climate change.
- 73% of US consumers would boycott a company not committed to addressing our climate crisis.
- 74% of Generation Z consumers are even ready to pay more for sustainable products.
Meeting investor criteria
The 2021 EY Global Institutional Investor Survey found that 74% of institutional investors tend to divest from companies with poor environmental performance.
Attracting top talent
Around 40% of millennials have chosen a job for the company’s environmental stance and would accept a lower salary to work for an eco-conscious employer. With millennials dominating the workforce, failing to meet crucial sustainability criteria could deter top talent.
Companies showcasing strong environmental and social values gain a positive brand reputation. Take Lego, for instance. By shifting to sustainable materials for its products and packaging, like leaves and sugarcane, Lego has seen its reputation soar.
Innovative Ethical and Sustainable Initiatives That Will Inspire You
Get ready for a smartphone that lasts a decade, sneakers crafted from ocean plastic, and a house built from recycled toilets. Are you prepared for this level of environmental ethics?
#1. The eco-friendly smartphone
Electronic waste hits a new record annually. In 2019, nearly 54 million tons were generated, a number projected to rise by 20 million tons over the next decade. Smartphones, laden with toxic substances and valuable metals, pose a particular challenge since they require specialized disposal due to the lack of standard recycling technologies.
While most smartphone manufacturers persist in launching new models, compelling rapid obsolescence, companies like Fairphone are breaking the mold. The Dutch firm has introduced a phone with a modular design intended for longevity.
Its significant draw? Long-term support, promising at least 5 Android updates and 8 years of security patches, with aims to extend this to a full 10 years post-release, a commitment unparalleled in the industry.
Fairphone's report highlights that 70% of the materials in their Fairphone 5 model are recyclable. Their manufacturing process incorporates:
- 75% post-consumer recycled plastics in battery frames.
- 100% post-consumer recycled plastics in all Fairphone 5 back covers, regardless of color.
- An Oled display featuring 100% pre-consumer recycled indium, 90% post-consumer recycled magnesium in the frame, and 41% bio-circular recycled plastics.
- A speaker housing 100% pre-consumer recycled rare earth elements and a 100% recycled plastic cover.
Notably, Fairphone emphasizes repairability. The US platform iFixit gives Fairphone a perfect 10/10, compared to the iPhone 12’s 6/10. The Fairphone 5 is designed for easy repair, offering 10 user-replaceable modules requiring only a standard screwdriver.
The phone boasts IP55 water resistance, handling rain and splashes with ease, and offers dual-sim functionality, accommodating a nano and e-sim simultaneously.
The latest Fairphone model is priced at €699.00.
#2. Apartment complex constructed from recycled toilets
By 2025, global construction waste could hit 2.2 billion tons annually.
Addressing this, Dutch firm StoneCycling has started creating bricks from recycled materials. In 2021, a residential building in Manhattan's Hell's Kitchen was erected using these bricks, composed of up to 60% recycled construction debris and old sanitary fixtures.
Developed by Dutch architects Concrete, the first 7 stories and the lobby of "The West" were built using StoneCycling bricks, incorporating roughly 263 tons of construction scrap from the Netherlands, Germany, and the UK.
"The West" houses 219 units, with studio prices beginning at $765,000. StoneCycling plans to produce 100% waste-derived bricks shortly.
#3. Harvesting water from the air
With 30% of global land already degraded, dry regions face issues like desertification among other environmental problems. Yet, countries can prosper under these conditions, as Israel demonstrates.
Leading the world in cow milk production and achieving remarkable citrus yields, Israel thrives despite water scarcity, thanks to innovative water management and technology. Over 90% of its wastewater is recycled — a global high compared to the US's modest 10%.
Israeli firm Watergen has pioneered technology to harvest water from the atmosphere. Their system draws in humid air, cools it internally, and collects condensate, which is then purified.
This water is deemed superior to tap or bottled water, balancing pH and enriching blood oxygen levels.
Watergen's technology is now in over 65 countries, particularly benefiting regions with acute water shortages.
#4. Sneakers from ocean plastic
With plastic predicted to outweigh fish in the oceans by 2050, the impact on marine and human life is profound. Adidas, combatting plastic pollution, partnered with Parley For The Oceans to produce the UltraBOOST Uncaged Parley sneakers, comprising 95% ocean plastic and repurposed fishing nets.
Some materials were uniquely sourced — organization “Sea Shepherds” apprehended poachers after a 110-day chase off West Africa's coast.
Every piece in the Parley collection uses at least 75% intercepted ocean trash, meeting Adidas' standards for performance and comfort.
Priced at $220 a pair, Adidas aims to create 20 million pairs of these shoes by 2024, preventing over 2,810 tons of plastic from polluting the oceans.
#5. Airplanes Made with 3D Printing
Airbus Helicopters is now using 3D printing for A350 parts, starting with aircraft doors. The process? First, a computer creates a 3D part model. Then, the printer system uses titanium powder to form the part layer by layer.
This additive manufacturing not only speeds up production but also cuts costs by using raw materials efficiently. Even better, it creates parts up to 45% lighter, leading to planes that use less fuel. Airbus states this technology could cut an A320's yearly emissions by about 465,000 metric tons — like removing 100,000 cars from the roads. To optimize 3D printing, Airbus teamed up with Materialise, a Belgian additive manufacturing specialist.
Boeing and Lockheed Martin are also on board with 3D printing. Boeing, for example, has a patent application in 3D printing, allowing quick spare part production. This technology aims to eliminate the need for large part inventories, with Boeing already using it for 300 components. Plus, it's not just plastic parts — metal and alloys are in the mix too.