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Life cycle assessment of second generation (2G) and third generation (3G) mobile phone networks

TitleLife cycle assessment of second generation (2G) and third generation (3G) mobile phone networks
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2006
AuthorsScharnhorst W, Hilty LM, Jolliet O
Journal TitleEnvironmental International
KeywordsData transfer rate, End-of-Life phase, Environmental Impact, GSM, Life cycle assessment, Mobile phone networks, Mobile telephony, UMTS
AbstractThe environmental performance of presently operated GSM and UMTS networks was analysed concentrating on the environmental effects ofthe End-of-Life (EOL) phase using the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) method. The study was performed based on comprehensive life cycleinventory and life cycle modelling. The environmental effects were quantified using the IMPACT2002+ method. Based on technological forecasts,the environmental effects of forthcoming mobile telephone networks were approximated.The results indicate that a parallel operation of GSM and UMTS networks is environmentally detrimental and the transition phase should bekept as short as possible. The use phase (i.e. the operation) of the radio network components account for a large fraction of the total environmental impact. In particular, there is a need to lower the energy consumption of those network components. Seen in relation to each other, UMTS networks provide an environmentally more efficient mobile communication technology than GSM networks. In assessing the EOL phase, recycling the electronic scrap of mobile phone networks was shown to have clear environmental benefits. Under the present conditions, material recycling could help lower the environmental impact of the production phase by up to 50%.
Scharnhorst_2006_EnvInt.pdf692.57 KB
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