GSMA Europe Mobile Meetings Series: Go Green: Mobile Solutions for Circular Economy
Globally, more than 4.7 billion people subscribe to a mobile service – almost two-thirds of the world’s population – and this figure is on course to reach 5.6 billion people in 2020. This reach enables the mobile industry to work with governments and the international community to build a greener economy by helping communities to reduce energy use and by adopting concrete actions to foster a “circular economy” for mobile phones.
The latest GSMA Europe Mobile Meeting Series breakfast debate on “Go Green: Mobile Solutions for Circular Economy“, which took place on 6 December in Brussels, brought together representatives from the EU institutions, business and civil society to discuss the role of the mobile sector in supporting the transition towards a greener economy. Several projects have shown the central role of mobile phones and connectivity in reducing low carbon emissions. SIM cards can be embedded in machines and devices to deliver smart, intelligent solutions: connectivity can make processes more efficient and reduce carbon emissions. Mobile phones can also help individuals monitor their own carbon footprint, while acting as an effective channel for advice on how to change behaviour to cut emissions.
One of the main challenges that emerged from the discussion was about striking the right balance between innovation and environment protection. Consumers are constantly asking for innovative products and services and the average life of smartphones has decreased in recent years. Participants agreed that consumers should have the right to be informed about the “environmental impact” of their phones.
Participants also focused on the importance of recycling. The EU currently loses a significant amount of potential secondary raw materials to waste streams. In 2013, the EU generated almost 2.5 billion tons of waste, of which 1.6 billion tons were not reused or recycled and therefore lost to the European economy. The European Commission has published its Circular Economy Package which represents a new legal framework to improve waste management practices, stimulate innovation in recycling, limit the use of landfill, and create incentives to change consumer behaviour.
Reducing waste can bring significant benefits: sustainable growth and job creation, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, direct savings linked with better waste management practices, and a better environment. In a circular economy, the aim is to reduce waste to a minimum and ensure precious resources are available for repeated reuse.
The mobile industry has a key role to play in building a more sustainable world. Most consumers are willing to be “green”, but mobile operators and policymakers need to work jointly towards a greener future. Mobile operators are already reducing energy use and adopting more energy efficient practices, but more can be done to help communities to reduce their climatic and environmental impact.
For more information about the GSMA’s commitment to playing a leading role in connecting the world and halting climate change (and also achieving other UN Sustainable Development Goals) please check the #betterfuture programme here.