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The role of unused storage phases (hibernation) in the overall lifetime of a mobile phone – an evaluation of simulation‐based scenarios including their environmental impacts

Glöser‐Chahoud, Simon; Pfaff, Matthias

FG Transdisziplinäre Nachhaltigkeitsforschung in der Elektronik

Life spans of consumer electronics such as mobile phones are often characterized by comparatively long storage phases after their useful lives, in which they do not provide any further service to their owners. This consumer behavior, which is referred to as hibernation, counteracts measures for increasing the lifetimes and use intensity of consumer electronics, which are integral components of a circular economy concept. Modifications in product design such as design for repair or refurbishment are mainly useful if a cascade use system could be realized in which the devices remain in service as long as possible without being stored in between use phases. This contribution builds upon a simulation model of different service lifetimes and storage phases of consumer electronics at the European level. We use this model to evaluate different scenarios for mobile phones, including smartphones. In the first scenario, an increase in service lifetime leads to decreasing demand for new devices, while in the second scenario, transfer probabilities to storage phases and, hence, hibernation are decreased. By linking the simulated scenarios to the impact factors of existing Life Cycle Assessments (LCAs) for mobile phones, we provide an outlook on the environmental benefits and resource conservation of the respective modifications in the use structure of mobile phones.