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A UL White Paper

The Life Cycle of Materials


in Mobile Phones
The Life Cycle of Materials in Mobile Phones

How New Phone Technology Affects the Environment

In just 30 years, mobile telephony has grown into a major global industry, with an
estimated 5 billion users around the world (compared with a total world population
of just under 7 billion people). While new subscriber growth has slowed somewhat
in recent years, product turnover remains high, with over 1 billion new mobile
phones shipped in 2009 alone. As a result of ever-advancing technology and product
obsolescence in this market, it is estimated that some 300,000 mobile phones are sent
to the trash every day in the United States alone.

This white paper examines the overall environmental impact of materials used in
mobile phones, from the extraction of raw materials and component manufacturing
required to produce the latest models, to the appropriate recovery and recycling of
these products at end-of-life (EoL). While the scope of this paper is limited to mobile
phones, similar materials are used in many other high technology products, including
personal computers, portable entertainment players, and other types of information
and communications devices. Energy consumption and radio frequency emissions at the
product level are outside the scope of this paper.

Regulated Substances and The EU’s RoHS Directive regulates

Waste Legislation specific hazardous substances, with


concentrations limited in parts per
The European Commission (EC) is among
million (ppm) by the weight of each
the most active and aggressive regulators
homogeneous material that can be
seeking to address the environmental
mechanically separated, as follows:
impact of electrical and electronic
equipment. Increasing concerns regarding •  Cadmium (Cd) — 0.01% (100 ppm)
the toxicity of several heavy metals
•  Lead (Pb) — 0.1% (1000 ppm)
and flame retardants used in electronic
equipment led to the Commission’s •  Mercury (Hg) — 0.1% (1000 ppm)
directive on the restriction of the use of •  Hexavalent chromium (Cr(VI))
certain hazardous substances in electrical — 0.1% (1000 ppm)
and electronic equipment (2002/95/EC,
•  Polybrominated diphenyls (PBB)
also known as the RoHS Directive), which
— 0.1% (1000 ppm)
came into force in European Union (EU)
member states in July 2006. •  Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE)
— 0.1% (1000 ppm)

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The Life Cycle of Materials in Mobile Phones

At present, the RoHS Directive affects of hazardous substances in electronic This white paper examines the various
mobile phones as well as other consumer products with the passage of Proposition materials commonly found in mobile
products. The Directive also includes 65 that imposes strict labeling phones from a lifecycle perspective,
several dozen exemptions that allow the requirements on products containing any including the extraction of raw materials,
use of otherwise restricted hazardous one of hundreds of potentially hazardous manufacturing of components, final
materials in certain specified applications. materials. All the while, the EU has not handset assembly, product in use, and
stood still, with additional regulations recovery and recycling of component
The impact of the EU’s RoHS Directive
limiting the use of so-called substances materials at the product’s EoL. The paper
on the worldwide electronics industry
of very high concern (SVHC) under its also identifies and evaluates alternative
has been significant. At the tactical
directive on the registration, evaluation, materials available to designers, service
level, the regulation has required
authorization and restriction of chemicals providers, retailers, users and other
development of new solders and new
(also known as the REACH Directive), stakeholders.
soldering process for manufacturing
which entered into force in June 2007.
printed wiring board (PWB) assemblies, Metals Overview
the selection of alternate materials for In addition to regulations regarding the From a high-level perspective, mobile
solder terminations of components, use of certain hazardous substances, the phones are generally comprised of
the qualification of alternate types EU has also implemented requirements approximately 40% metals and 40%
of flame retardants, and the need to intended to limit the unsafe handling plastics by weight, with the remainder
identify replacements for other banned of electronic waste, including improper made up of glass and/or ceramic
substances. At the strategic level, the disposal, “landfilling” and unregulated and other miscellaneous materials.
implementation of the requirements incineration. The EU’s directive covering The major metals content of mobile
of the RoHS Directive has required electrical and electronic equipment waste phones has been analyzed since the
manufacturers to establish new supply (2002/96/EC, also known as the WEEE initial growth of the industry, and
chain management procedures, and Directive) was enacted in July 2006. The updates continue to become available.
to develop expertise in specifying and WEEE Directive establishes targets for Data from earlier generation phones
documenting the materials used in collection of EoL products and for material (pre-1997) is shown in Table 1.
electronics hardware. recovery and recycling, and limits the
quantity of plastics and other materials Table 1: Metals Content of Early Mobile
Further, most consumer product Phones (ECTEL 1997)
that can be incinerated for energy
manufacturers have opted not to run
recovery. Beyond the EU, some 23 states Major Metals Content of Mobile Phones
separate manufacturing processes for
in the United States presently have some Copper (Cu) 49.0%
RoHS-compliant and non-compliant
form of proposed or enacted legislation Zinc (Zn) 21.8%
products. Instead, they have modified all
requiring the collection, recovery and
of their production to comply with RoHS Iron (Fe) 11.6%
recycling of various electronics products.
requirements, thereby ensuring that Nickel (Ni) 6.5%
even products shipped to non-EU regions But, while the above regulations are Aluminum (Al) 5.5%
contribute to the worldwide reduction in intended to reduce the overall use of Lead (Pb) 1.9%
the use of hazardous materials. hazardous materials and to divert those Tin (Sn) 1.7%
actually used from improper waste Silver (Ag) 1.5%
Other nations, including China and South
disposal, it is not clear whether the
Korea, have followed the EU’s lead with Chromium (Cr) 0.5%
requirements are based on a holistic
similar, but not identical, regulations. Gold (Au) 0.1%
assessment of the positive and negative
In the United States, California has led Palladium (Pd) trace
aspects of materials used in electronics.
the way toward increased regulation

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The Life Cycle of Materials in Mobile Phones

The conversion of mobile phone design However, this approach provides neither a Figure 2: Content (Percent) Times Value
Weighting of Phone-Level Metal Content
and production to comply with RoHS-type complete nor correctly weighted result. It
requirements has noticeably reduced the is widely known, for example, that while Content
CONTENT X
X Value
VALUE
content of lead in subsequent generations precious metals, including gold, silver and
Pd

of products as well as the size, mass and palladium, constitute a small percentage Au

use of structural metals. However, copper of the device’s total mass, precious metal Ni

has remained the dominant mass of any recovery is a significant factor in life cycle Ag

metal in these devices. management (Sullivan 2006). Thus, a Sn

more inclusive analysis of metal content Al


In a more recent study, a variety of
is warranted. Fe

metals were identified according to Cu

their use within several main functional Figure 1: Phone-Level Metal Content 0 10 20 30 40 50 60

(Percentage) from Table 3


component categories (see Table 2).
from their respective ores, which is
Although the percentage of composition Content
CONTENT Percent
PERCENT illustrated in Figure 3. From an energy
was not published in this study, the list
Pd perspective, precious metals gold, silver
nonetheless provides useful guidance
Au and palladium exceed the impact of
as an overall materials content menu by
Ni copper. In addition, the energy content
component type, which will be further Ag
of plastics is also significant. Although
discussed in the Metals Content of Main Sn
not prominent in Figure 3, glass has
Components section. Al
been noted in other sources as having
Fe
Another recent report details the use of a significant energy footprint, due to
Cu

metals in mobile handsets by percentage 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14


the high melt temperatures that are
and economic value. The data is shown in required during manufacturing.
Table 3.
Metals Content with Value Weighting Neither tin nor nickel are significant
Table 2: Main Elements by Functional from a recovery value or energy
Component (Takahashi 2008) In addition to percentage composition
perspective and will not be considered
data, Table 3 also provides a value ratio
priority materials here. However,
Type of Part Elements Detected for each metal. This factor can be used
nickel must still be considered from
Circuit Board Au, Ag, As Ba, Bi, Cr,
to weight each metal according to
Cu, Ga, Mn, Ni, Pb, an external, user contact perspective
Pd, Pt, Si, Sn, Ta, Ti, commercial considerations, a relevant
(see External Surfaces section).
Zn, Zr factor from a metals recycling point
Flexible Substrate Au, Ag, Cu, Pt of view. The products of the content Therefore, from a phone-level standpoint,
Liquid Crystal Display Au, Ag, As, Ba, Ca, Cu, percentages and value ratios are major metals of interest are:
In, Ni, Sb, Si, Sn
depicted in Figure 2. While copper •  Copper
Motor Au, Ag, Cu, Pt
remains dominant, ferrous and
Camera Au, Cu, Ni •  Gold
aluminum fractions are reduced
Speaker/Microphone Cu, Mn, Zn in importance, and the weighting •  Silver
of gold predictably increases, since
•  Palladium
precious metals recovery dominates
A graphical analysis of this data is shown
the EoL phase of mobile phones. •  Ferrous metals, e.g., steels
in Figure 1. From this analysis, one might
and stainless steels
conclude that mainly copper, iron and Another important life cycle consideration
aluminum are top priority materials. is the energy required to extract metals •  Aluminum

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The Life Cycle of Materials in Mobile Phones

Metals in these products are considered Figure 3: Energy Consumed in Raw Material Extraction (Yu 2010)

a valuable resource, and the data clearly Pb

supports the need for recovery of EoL Ni

products and the recycling and reuse Zn

of these metals (Sullivan 2006). The Glass

unwanted end result would be for high Sn

RAW MATERIAL
volumes of such products ending up in Al

a landfill, where some of the metals, Fe

including copper, nickel, antimony, lead Cu

and zinc could leach out (Lincoln 2007). Ag

Pd
Metals Content of Main Components Plastic

Another useful way to approach Au

material content is from a functional 0 2 4 6 8 10 12


ENERGY, MJ (PER MOBILE PHONE)
point of view, based on an analysis
of the main components. One such components or machinable brass and (LCDs) and integrated circuits (ICs). ICs
breakdown is shown in Table 4, where aluminum. With regard to chromium, only are typically mounted on a PWB, so that
the six priority metals that have already its hexavalent form (Cr(VI)) is restricted, a bare PWB, or substrate, which has not
been identified from bulk product while chromium metal is allowed and yet been populated with components or
analysis have been highlighted. may be found in stainless steels. soldered as an assembly, is a subset of
Highlighted elements are those identified the PWB category that is often presented
Clearly, non-metals are missing
as priority metals in this paper. in the literature to mean the assembly of
from the data based on chemical
PWB plus soldered components.
Several observations can be drawn from analysis. Notably absent are the light
this data, including the following points: metal beryllium; the halogens, i.e., The rest of the metals listed in Table
fluorine, chlorine, bromine, iodine, 4 remain available for ongoing
•  Certain components contain
astatine; phosphorous; and all organic environmental study. It may be useful to
metals not found to be significant
(carbon-based) compounds. Halogens may comment here on where and why they
at the handset level
contribute to EoL concerns due to dioxin might be used:
•  Other metals significant at the and furan formation when improperly
•  Antimony (Sb): Antimony oxides
handset level may not appear incinerated. Beryllium in beryllia or copper
are synergists for brominated
in selected components. beryllium alloys should be minimized
flame retardants (BFR)
from a dust inhalation perspective
Among the restricted substances
•  Arsenic (As): Could be found in
identified in the EU’s RoHS Directive, only Metals — Future Trends specialty glass of displays. GaAs
lead and chromium were identified in this
In other studies, the dominant is also used in semiconductors
data. (Note: Some common exemptions
components in the life cycle of a mobile •  Barium (Ba): Ceramic capacitors are
apply to lead, e.g., in glass frit of chip
phone are PWBs, liquid crystal displays typically based on barium titanate
Table 3: Metal Content and Value Ratio at Phone Level (Yu 2010)

Element Cu Al Fe Ni Pb Sn Ag Au Pd
Content (%) 13.0 2.0 5.0 0.1 0.3 0.5 0.1 0.0 0.0
Value Ratio (%) 4.3 0.3 0.2 0.1 0.0 0.6 3.9 78.9 11.8

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•  Bismuth (Bi): Its presence is not •  Platinum (Pt): While platinum •  Zinc (Zn): Zinc is used in various
expected and is not listed in other has been listed in some other brasses alloyed with copper
comprehensive data for populated reports (Legarth 1996, p. 35), its
•  Zirconium (Zr): Zirconium is not
electronic PWBs (Legarth 1996, p. related noble metal, palladium,
widely found in electronics, and its
35). Bismuth could possibly be a which is used in some termination
presence here is not explained
trace metal in Pb-based solder systems, is found more often

•  Calcium (Ca): Glasses are known to •  Silicon (Si): Silicon dioxide is the major Metals — Energy Footprint
contain CaO (Legarth, 1996, p. 28) constituent of glass, used in fibers The energy footprint of major
woven in rigid PWBs, reinforcements components parallels their materials
•  Chromium (Cr): Chromium seems
for plastics, and lenses for displays. impacts. Figure 5 shows that silicon
anomalous on PWBs, but is known
Silicon is also the major substrate in ICs and GaAs semiconductors contribute
to be present in stainless steels,
and other semiconductors. Silicon is an more to energy impact than the
and in thin films for corrosion
abundant resource in sand, and it may remaining electronic parts, followed
protection of steel, e.g., Cr(III)
be recovered in a glass fraction during by LCD and ceramic devices. In
•  Gallium (Ga): High performance recycling, but there are no known comparison, the contribution of
semiconductors may be based on GaAs ways to recover any of the significant final phone assembly is small.
•  Indium (In): Used in displays as an energy content of a functional
Plastics
optically transparent conductor, semiconductor at the material level.
Two major classes of plastics,
indium tin oxide (ITO) •  Tantalum (Ta): Used in thermoplastics and thermosets, are
•  Manganese (Mn): Manganese is not tantalum capacitors. relevant to mobile handsets and all
often found in electronics except as an •  Tin (Sn): Tin is common in types of electronic devices. The carbon
internal layer in tantalum capacitors component terminations and is backbone is not detected in routine
the major metal in solders. metals analysis, so a bill of material or
•  Nickel (Ni): Nickel is often used
disassembly is required to obtain product-
as an internal barrier layer to •  Titanium (Ti): TiO2 is a white pigment,
specific detail.
prevent intermetallic growth in which may be attributed to markings
component terminations, and is a on a PWB or component. Titanium Common Thermoplastics
constituent of stainless steels could also be found on external
Since many major housing parts are
•  Lead (Pb): Banned under surfaces in plastics, paints or markings.
being marked with ISO 11469 codes,
RoHS-type requirements. May be Titanium is also a major element
e.g., >PC+ABS<, it is often possible to
present in exempt applications, in the alloy NiTi (nitinol), a shape
disassemble and inspect samples to
e.g., glass or ceramics memory material, which has been
identify their composition in cases
used for external antenna wires
Table 4: Component-Level Metals Content (Takahashi 2008)
† Elements are those identified as priority metals in this paper.

Metal Au† Ag† As Ba Bi Ca Cr Cu† Ga In Mn Ni Pb Pt Si Sb Sn Ta Ti Zn Zr Al† Fe† Pd†


PWB • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
Flex • • • •
LCD • • • • • • • • • • •
Camera • • •
Audio
• • •
components

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The Life Cycle of Materials in Mobile Phones

where a supplier bill of material is not Figure 4: Energy Required to Produce Main Components (Yamaguchi 2003)

available. Polycarbonate (PC), acrylonitrile


Cellular Phone Assembly
butadiene styrene (ABS) and blends
of these two materials are commonly,
Ceramic Device
though not exclusively, used for housings.
These basic polymers may further contain Liquid Crystal Display

PARTS
varying levels of glass fibers to improve
mechanical stiffness. Commercial Sum of Electronic Parts

thermoplastics also always contain


additives for better flow and processing, GaAs Device

heat and UV protectants, other stabilizers,


Silicon Device
and inorganic or organic colorants.

In contrast to flexible plastics like PVC, 0 50 100 150 200 250 300 350 400 450 500
PROCESS ENERGY/MATERIAL PRODUCTION ENERGY
plasticizers like phthalates are not
expected to be present in engineering
Recycling Thermoplastics paper. For consumer plastics (consumer
thermoplastics. While flame retardant
plastics are defined as those with Society
grades are available, industry practice Thermoplastics can be collected,
of the Plastics Industry (SPI) recycling
tends to limit their use to housings of reground and molded into new parts,
codes 1 through 6; engineering resins
external power supplies and not the subject to limitations on source
like PC are lumped under code #7, Other),
housings of mobile handsets themselves. control, contamination, separation
it is not unusual to see a financial loss,
Numerous other base plastics and blends of desired grades and colors, and
though the impact needs to be more
may also be found, e.g., copolymers of PC degradation of mechanical properties
thoroughly reviewed to fully understand
and siloxane. versus virgin resin. The recycling of
environmental benefits of recycling versus
engineering thermoplastics may
The handset manufacturer has the energy recovery. Data appears to be
enjoy more widespread success as
additional options of metalizing, painting rather limited regarding the recycling of
recycling volume increases and the
and, in the case of ABS-containing resins, engineering thermoplastics.
practice of using recycled content
plating the surface to achieve cosmetic
reinforces life cycle thinking. In addition, engineering plastics recycling
requirements. Clear thermoplastics
today is not necessarily a closed loop.
like PC or polymethylmethacrylate There have been dissenting opinions
Resins from EoL electronic products
(PMMA) may also be found, usually with on the economic and environmental
may not feed back into new electronic
suitable coating layers for anti-abrasion, validity of spending resources to recycle
products. Some approaches rely upon
anti-smudging or optical properties (see plastics, which may represent only a
collection of items such as consumer
External Surfaces section). minor fraction of a handset’s overall
water bottles that can be ground and
environmental footprint. One such view is
In addition to the major resins used incorporated in an engineering resin. An
presented in Figure 5.
in housings, a vast number of other alternate approach is chemical conversion
polymers may be used, each with their According to this data, the main economic of a consumer resin like polyethylene
own specific mechanical properties impacts are in the LCD and the populated terephthalate (PET) to another base
depending on their intended function. PWB (including ICs), a view that agrees chemical feedstock that can then be
These materials may require further with the known energy footprint of used to manufacture PET and other
investigation on a case-by-case basis. these assemblies discussed earlier in this engineering resins.

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The Life Cycle of Materials in Mobile Phones

Despite the perceived limits of plastic phones also often contain one or more sphenol A (TBBPA). This compound is
recycling, it seems intuitive that most layers of resin-coated copper high chemically reacted into the backbone of
types of recycled plastics would save on density interconnect (HDI). Custom epoxies so that it is no longer present as
energy, compared with manufacturing grades of epoxies are also used in an individual chemical species to help
virgin resin from petrochemicals. UL molding component packages such as reduce its release and exposure to the
Environment continues to seek additional semiconductors, tantalum capacitors environment. Still, additional studies
data that would identify these benefits. and so forth. In these applications, flame are indicated regarding TBBPA’s limited
retardants are almost always used, thus biodegradeability and its toxic effects on
Thermosetting Plastics warranting attention on the potential aquatic organisms. (Rosenblum 2011).
Epoxies are used in rigid PWBs, laminated environmental issues from the use of
Unlike thermoplastics, which can
in layers with glass weave reinforcement, halogens, including chlorine and bromine.
be recycled and remelted into new
with copper photopatterned, and
One of the most commonly used flame applications, epoxies generally are
chemically etched and plated to
retardants in electronics PWBs and not recyclable. It is currently accepted
form interconnects. PWBs in mobile
component packages is tetrabromobi- that the epoxy may be used for energy
recovery in the pretreatment (“roasting”)
Figure 5: Environmental Impact of Cellular Phone Parts (Boks 2000)
of PWBs, including assembled PWBs;
however, the glass is destined to end
up as a slag. Some work has been

1%Rest
done to recycle epoxy and glass as
inert filler for various applications.

Bio-Based Plastics

39% LCD
Besides recovery and recycling, another
emerging approach to improving
materials sustainability involves
renewable biological sources. Many
of these new materials are just being
commercially introduced. Some of the
feedstocks being developed for basic
chemicals include corn, soybeans, or
sugar cane. Non-foodstuff sources, like
castor beans and kenaf, and cellulose
and lignin from forest products,
are also under development.

59%
Bio-based materials may either replace
traditional petrochemicals for making
PWB an existing type of plastic or may

1%
Housing
become the building blocks for creating
new types of plastic. More research
is required to better understand
the energy footprint of bio-based

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The Life Cycle of Materials in Mobile Phones

materials and to validate their overall of the references cited in the previous Paint
sustainability. However, the current section on metals.) Finishing tends to
One or more coats of spray-applied
consensus is that bio-based materials be problematic for magnesium, but
paint, e.g., base coats and clear overcoat,
generally contribute to sustainability. painting and anodizing are possible (see
are common over both plastic and
the Paint section). Since its use appears
External Surfaces metal external parts. One major type of
to be rare and the external surface will be
So far, this paper has examined the paint chemistry is 2K, or 2-component,
addressed elsewhere, magnesium is not
mobile phone from a functional polyurethane. Variations include thermal
of significance at this time.
perspective. While the use phase does or ultraviolet curing, solvent-borne
not use or generate materials (excluding Steels and stainless steels may find formulations with the emission of volatile
the chemical reactions within batteries), limited use in either finished or organic compounds (VOCs) that may be
the main use phase materials issue to unfinished form. Their externally available incinerated on site, high solids/low VOC
be addressed is skin contact by the user. nickel content may be tested per the formulations, and waterborne varieties.
With the exception of external nickel, methods identified in EN 1811 and EN Pigments are certain to be present in any
which may cause allergic dermatitis, 12472 for allergic dermatitis, but these type of paint, including inorganics like
no additional concerns regarding skin materials do not generally release excess TiO2 for white, and an extensive list of
contact with external surfaces have nickel in use. possible chemicals for other colors.
been identified to date. However,
Plastics Plating
the following areas are included
here for sake of completeness. As discussed in the Common Chromium is the most common type
Thermoplastics section, plastics may be of of plating for external parts on ferrous
Metals numerous chemical families and contain metals as well as for wet-plateable
Because a cell phone is a radio transmitter additives as well, though most often the plastics containing ABS. In addition
and receiver, the use of external metals top surface is decorated. to chromic acid, some of the plating
is necessarily limited to prevent the chemistries may involve sulfuric acid
Glass and palladium, tin and/or copper-based
degradation of antenna performance.
Aluminum alloys are most commonly Glass use is on the rise, especially with activators. Thus, the presence of
used due to their light weight. touch screen handsets. Aluminosilicate chromium and the other metals should be
glass is most common, with chemical investigated as a potential risk.
Anodizing strengthening applied to exchange
There are also widely used nameplates
As a preferred method of finishing sodium with potassium within the outer
or escutcheons formed by plating
aluminum, anodizing is an electrolytic portions of the glass structure itself. Bare
electroformed nickel with chromium,
process in which aluminum is treated glass is not likely to be the final external
adding vacuum-deposited metal,
in a bath of an oxidizing agent (strong surface, since various clear coatings are
and finishing with a clear top coat
acid) to which colorants may also be applied to address reflections, smudging
of paint. Nickel electroplating itself
added. Thus, the surface contains and other user concerns. These coatings
may also be colored, e.g., “black
aluminum oxides, imparting a hard, may consist of a variety of silicone or
nickel” for steel fasteners.
ceramic-like finish with entrapped fluorosilicone polymers, although detailed
pigments providing the desired color. formulations are usually proprietary. Vacuum Metalization
However, such coatings may wear off,
Magnesium and its alloys have been Vacuum metalization can most often be
leaving exposed glass.
used on a much more limited basis. (Note found in mobile handset applications
that magnesium was not listed in any and may be externally applied using

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The Life Cycle of Materials in Mobile Phones

a tin-rich source. The resulting film ULE’s Standard released as a formal standard, either
imparts a metallic look that is not dense for Sustainability though the International Electrotechni-
enough to be electrically conductive. cal Commission (IEC) or the American
UL Environment is in the final stages of
Subsequent overcoatings may include National Standards Institute (ANSI).
its work to draft a Standard intended
colored or clear paint that may
to address sustainability in electrical Conclusions
wear off. Hence, the use of vacuum
and electronic products, including This paper has reviewed the market
metalization may result in user contact
mobile phones. In its current form, the trends and regulatory landscape for
with potentially hazardous materials.
draft standard, ULE 110 Sustainability mobile phones, which have been
Requirements for Handheld Consumer significant drivers of change in the
Other Decorations
Electronic Products, assesses each product past few years. The materials content
Practically any of the aforementioned
on its use of sustainable materials in its of these products has been analyzed
external surfaces may contain
design and construction, selection of from a life cycle perspective. For each
artwork or printing applied by
materials and use of recycled content of the main material categories, i.e.,
various printing processes. Other
as well as efforts to optimize material metals, plastics, external surfaces
types of decorations include in-mold
recovery and recycling at a product’s EoL. and glass, key environmental impacts
lamination and in-mold decoration.
The Standard assesses the sustainability have been detailed for material
Fabrics and leather may contain azo dyes not just of a product itself, but also selection in product design as well
that are regulated in the EU. EU Directives accompanying accessories, including the as prospects for a high degree of
regulating azo colorants include 2004/21/ product’s power supply and even product material reuse and recycling at EoL.
EC, 2003/3/EC and 2002/61/EC. packaging. The Standard also addresses
Although small in their overall amount,
larger issues such as the environmental
Glass precious metals are significant by virtue
management system used by the
Handsets are trending toward larger of their limited availability, energy
manufacturer and toxicology concerns.
displays and toward displays dominated footprint and recovery value. Comments
by touch screens. The material most ULE 110 employs an achievement matrix on a comprehensive list of other
often used is specialty glass. While use that rates each product on several elements based on the available chemical
of recycled glass (cullet) would offer a different sustainability categories, analysis data have also been provided.
reduction in the energy footprint, it is not including materials, energy use, health
No solution is currently available for
known whether manufacturers are able to and environmental concerns, EoL
recovering the embedded energy in
ensure stringent optical and mechanical management, packaging and product
key components like ICs and displays.
properties with post-consumer recycled manufacturing, and innovation. Each
However, prospects remain open for
content. More work is needed here to product must earn a minimum number
future optimization of recycled plastics
gain a better understanding of the use of of points to qualify for certification and
and bio-based plastics, including a
post-consumer cullet by manufacturers. can qualify for higher certification levels
closed-loop approach where old products
depending on the total points earned.
Also needed is a better understanding are recycled back into new ones.
Mobile phones meeting the criteria of
of the potential for recycled content in
the Standard will have demonstrated For information about the “The Life Cycle
glass fiber (fiberglass) to be used as a
significant strides toward achieving of Materials in Mobile Phones” white
filler in plastics and the glass weave of
environmental sustainability. paper, please contact Research Engineer
PWBs. Energy savings within the glass
Roger Franz, UL Environment, at
production process can be awarded UL Environment expects to release
Roger.Franz@ulenvironment.com.
through supplier environmental the draft standard for review in the
management incentives. near future, and expects ULE 110 to be

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The Life Cycle of Materials in Mobile Phones

References [8] Legarth, J.B. (1996), “Recycling of [15] Takahashi, K.I., M. Tsuda, J. Nakamura,
Electronic Scrap.” Technical University K. Otabe, M. Tsuruoka, Y. Matsuno
Books, Journals and Proceedings
of Denmark, Dept. of Manufacturing and Y. Adachi (2008), “Elementary
[1] Ayers, R.U. and L.W. Ayers (1996),
Engineering, Process and Production Analysis of Mobile Phones for
Industrial Ecology (Cheltenham, UK:
Engineering (Lyngby, Denmark). Optimizing End-of-Life Scenarios,”
Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd.).
Journal of Environmental Science
[9] Lincoln, J.D., O.A. Ogunseitan, A.A.
[2] Boks, C., J. Juisman and A. Stevels 20:1403-1408.
Shapiro and J-D. M Saphores (2007),
(2000), “Combining Economical
“Leaching Assessments of Hazardous [16] Worrell, E., C. Galitsky, E. Masanet
and Environmental Considerations
Materials in Cellular Telephones,” and W. Graus (2008), “Energy
in Cellular Phone Design,” IEEE
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