Aluminum, lead, coltan, oil derivatives, water … Up to 30 kilos of materials are needed to manufacture a single smartphone.
Where are they extracted from? Who processes them and assembles them? And under what working conditions?
Mineral Traffic And Violence
Some components of a smartphone require such valuable metals as platinum, tantalum or coltan, whose production is concentrated in conflict zones such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where armed militias control much of the mines.A control that according to the United Nations is exercised with violence: homicide, forced labor, rape, child recruitment for guerrillas and displacement of entire communities.
In our study published in January 2011, we lamented that among smartphone manufacturers, only Samsung, LG, Sony-Ericsson and Nokia have developed formal policies to prevent the supply of illegally mined metals and minerals in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Lack Of Transparency
Where do smartphones assemble? What are the working conditions of the workers who work in their factories?In our latest study, conducted in 2010, neither Apple, nor Blackberry, nor HTC, nor Nokia nor Sony-Ericsson let us directly check the labor and environmental conditions in their factories, most of which are in countries with very low labor costs Such as China, the Philippines or India.
Many of these factories are not managed directly by the brands, as they are subsidiaries or are subcontracted by these subsidiaries.In theory, their products and the way in which they are produced remain the responsibility of brands.In practice, we observe that effectivecontrol does not always exist.
Suicides Among Workers
“Foxconn is not a place where you work as prisoners.There are restaurants and swimming pools.To be a factory is very nice. “So settled Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO, questions about the 17 workers who committed suicide in just eight months at Chinese electronics supply company Foxconn.Among its customers, in addition to Apple, are Nokia and Sony-Ericsson.
According to several NGOs suicides are linked to low wages, excessive working hours and oppressive management methods.Foxconn, meanwhile, after sending monks to factories to “exorcise evil spirits” and accuse the families of the deceased of profit, ended up offering to raise wages and constitute an employee support group.
Use Of Toxic Substances
We detect thepresence of antimony, nickel and volatile organic compoundsin mobile phones in general (we do not know if also in smartphones), toxic substances for those who mount and dismantle them.Like lead, a metal restricted by European legislation and from which there are non-polluting materials that can be used instead.
But it is also that the mobiles are hardly recyclable, since the different materials that compose them can not separate properly.The main cause is that it is easier for the manufacturer to paste the elements rather than to assemble them.So try to put up with your smartphone until it breaks down.Do you still want to change it?If it still works, visit