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Ecological footprint analysis applied to mobile phones

TitleEcological footprint analysis applied to mobile phones
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2006
AuthorsFrey SD, Harrison DJ, Billett EH
Journal TitleJournal Of Industrial Ecology
Volume10
Pages199-216
Accession NumberISI:000235575000015
Keywordsbioproductive area, electronic products, environmental indicator, industrial ecology, information and communications, natural capital accounting, technology (ICT)
AbstractEcological footprints (EF) have been used for more than 15 yras an aggregate measure of sustainability of geographical regions,but also for certain products and activities. EF analysismeasures the bioproductive areas required to produceresources such as crops and timber, the directly occupiedareas for infrastructure, and areas for absorbing waste flows(mostly limited to carbon dioxide) in a given year for a definedpopulation. The need to extend ecological footprint analysisto electronic products arose because so far, mobile phoneshave mainly been evaluated using life-cycle assessments witha focus on toxicity, end-of-life management, and energy use,thus ignoring the wider sustainability implications. This articlepresents the footprint results from three mobile phone casestudies. To establish the land areas consumed by the minedmaterials used in electronic products, a database was developedbased on literature data and on approximations from thedensity and overburden of materials. The relationship betweenabundance and overburden values was used in a regressionanalysis to estimate energy requirements in materials extractionwhere other data were not available. Using a life-cycleassessment approach, environmental burdens for producingand using a mobile phone were calculated and transformedinto the instantaneous rate of resource consumption. Key resultswere that different electronic products have differentecological footprints and that the methodology proved sensitiveenough to reveal differences in small electronic productsand for monitoring technologies that use bioproductive spaceefficiently.
URL<Go to ISI>://000235575000015
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