Understanding the materials in mobile phones

Identifying issues and opportunities for improving material supply chains

We’ve examined 38 materials found in smartphones to understand which offer a high potential for positive change.

 

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The challenge

The Fairphone 2 contains 40 different elements, and each comes with its own list of social, environmental and health-related issues. To help determine where our efforts could make the biggest difference, we worked with The Dragonfly Initiative to develop a framework to assess 38 of these materials and the associated issues and opportunities. Our materials scoping matrix shows the complexity of all the different factors we considered.

Our approach

While many of the materials evaluated deserve more attention, the findings of our materials scoping study helped us to create a shortlist of 10 materials to examine more closely: tin, tantalum, tungsten, gold, cobalt, copper, gallium, indium, nickel, rare earth metals. These materials are all frequently used in the electronics industry, have a range of mining-related issues, and are not likely to be substituted in the near future. While we certainly won’t be able to improve all these supply chains, these minerals currently represent the most compelling potential to make a lasting impact. We have already set up transparent supply chains for some of these minerals. For the rest, we’ll continue to evaluate options for improvement one material at a time.

Timeline

Now

Fairer materials – a list of the 10 we’re focusing on

Fairer materials – a list of the 10 we’re focusing on

Because we want to change the way products are made, one of our principal aims is to support fair materials and incorporate them into our…

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Zooming in on 10 materials and their supply chains

Zooming in on 10 materials and their supply chains

In February, I introduced you to the first steps of the materials scoping study that we completed with the help of The Dragonfly Initiative (TDI).…

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Together we can change the way products are made