October 4, 2012

The iPhone 5 And 4S Be Green, Y’all

As it turns out, aluminum, glass and steel are highly recyclable materials. When devices are built with plenty of these elements and very low traces of other chemicals, such as bromine, chlorine, lead and mercury, the end result is a very green and environmentally safe phone.

For all the slack Apple gets for not being “green” enough for Greenpeace or for dropping out of the EPEAT program, (they later dropped back in) they continue to produce some of the greenest and most environmentally conscious devices out there.

Working together with, the tear-down experts at performed a chemical analysis on 36 different smartphones, including the iPhone 5 and 4S. According to their research, these latest iPhones are among the top 5 greenest smartphones around.

“As Apple is the biggest company in the world, we expect them to set the bar high when it comes to environmental responsibility—especially since they claim to make “the most environmentally responsible products in our industry,” reads the HealthyStuff / iFixit report.

“The HealthyStuff analysis demonstrates that Apple is actively reducing toxic chemicals in their products. The iPhone has undergone a steady, gradual toxic chemical improvement in the last five years…”

Using X-ray fluorescence spectrometry, the team measured each of these 36 smartphones for levels of the aforementioned bromine, chlorine, lead and mercury, each potentially dangerous. Each phone was then rated on a scale from 0 to 5, 5 being the worst or least-green.

This information is important, says the team, because Americans throw away as many as 130 million smartphones every year. Of these 130 million discarded phones, only 8% are discarded properly, meaning these dangerous chemicals can be released into the air or groundwater. What’s worse, some attempts to recycle a phone responsibly may lead to even more pollution, as some so-called recyclers simply ship the phones overseas, where they are either refurbished, repaired, or simply dumped.

All in all, the report found that many smartphones are becoming greener as we become more environmentally aware.

The glass and steel iPhone 4S actually beat out the new, aluminum iPhone 5, scoring 2.69 and 2.75, respectively. As for the iPhone 5, the report found only 335 ppm of bromine, 281 ppm of lead and 96 ppm of mercury living inside the home button, circuit board, processor and case. The iPhone 4S even scored better than its near-identical twin, the iPhone 4, which scored lower in the top ten at 2.95.

According to these results, Apple really has made some great strides in cleaning up their green act in just 5 years, as the original iPhone scored the worst on the 0 to 5 scale with a rating of 5.00. The Palm Treo 750, BlackBerry Storm 9350 and Nokia N95 also scored in the low end of the list. Apple also managed to beat out several other competitors in respect to green-liness, namely Samsung’s Reclaim, Eternity and even the Galaxy S III. Motorola’s Citrus, a low-end Android smartphone made explicitly with eco-friendliness in mind, topped the carts with a rating of 2.56.

Now, customers on the fence about buying a new iPhone can now set their environmentally conscious minds at ease when picking up any of the latest iPhones.

Image Credit: Roberto Robuffo / Shutterstock

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