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Life Cycle Assessment of the Fairphone 3

: Proske, Marina; Sánchez, David; Clemm, Christian; Baur, Sarah-Jane

Fulltext (PDF; )

Berlin: Fraunhofer IZM, 2020, 156 pp.
Study, Electronic Publication
Fraunhofer IZM ()

The results of the Fairphone 3 LCA show that environmental impacts are largely production driven, with the electronic components causing the main impact. Housing and structural parts play a minor role in the overall impact. Design aspects, such as form factor, indirectly influence the entire LCA of the device, mainly through the display and battery size, but not through the impact of housing material itself. As the main impact is caused by production, prolonging the use phase is still a strong measure to influence the overall environmental impact for all impact categories except ADP elements, which can be reduced through efficient precious metal recycling. The comparison of 3, 5 and 7 years of use shows that the impact per year of use drops significantly with longer lifetime(up to 42% GWP drop per year for a 7 years use phase). This is still the case if repair is needed, as shown in the repair scenarios. This is, however, dependent on the effective lifetime extension that is achieved in reality. The impact of the additional hardware required to enable modularity has been reduced in comparison with Fairphone 2.This is due to the new connectors which, unlike the previous pogo pin connectors, use less gold in their contacts. Furthermore, the small press-fit connectors are not a unique feature of the Fairphone, as they can also be found in more conventionally designed smartphones. Therefore, the “modularity overhead” is now much smaller when compared to the previous model. The change in transport to the distribution hub, which now takes place by train rather than by air, is translated intoanotable reduction on transport-related impacts of around 87% reduction in GWP. The use phase, on the contrary, results in an increased environmental impact in all categories when compared to the Fairphone 2, mainly due to the bigger battery of the Fairphone 3and the assumption of one full charge/ discharge cycle per day.