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Lifetime extension of mobile internet-enabled devices: measures, challenges and environmental implications

Type of publication Not peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Other publication (non peer-review)
Author BieserJan, BurkhalterLinda, HiltyLorenz M., FuchsBasil, BlumerYann,
Project Lifesaving: A multi-perspective approach for extending the service life of mobile internet-enabled devices to reach a resource light economy
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Other publication (non peer-review)

Book Lifetime extension of mobile internet-enabled devices: measures, challenges and environmental implications
Publisher University of Limerick, Limerick Ireland

Open Access

URL https://ulir.ul.ie/handle/10344/10165
Type of Open Access Repository (Green Open Access)

Abstract

Increasing the service lifetime of mobile Internet-enabled devices (MIEDs) such as smartphones, tablets and laptops is a promising strategy to reduce the number of devices that need to be produced and reduce environmental impacts associated with device production. A broad spectrum of lifetime-extending measures has been explored in literature and in industry practice. In this article, we present an overview of explored measures, discuss challenges in their implementation and environmental impacts of lifetime extension. We find that measures can be distinguished into measures aiming at (1) the improvement of the device design (e.g. modular or durable design of smartphones), (2) device retention (increasing the time a user keeps a device, e.g. by offering repair services or fostering emotional attachment to devices), and (3) recirculation (creating a second life with a different user and/or in a different context, e.g. by refurbishing and reselling devices). The implementation of measures is challenged by trade-offs faced by organizations in the MIED value chain, which specifically occur when revenues depend on the number of new devices produced and sold. Furthermore, measures are subject to rebound and induction effects (e.g. imperfect substitution, re-spending effects), which can compensate for the (theoretical) environmental gains from service lifetime extension. In particular, it is uncertain to what extent a measure actually leads to lifetime extension and eventually reduces primary production of devices (displacement rate). Thus, more systematic research is needed on the feasibility of measures and the conditions under which they effectively contribute to a net reduction of environmental impacts.
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