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The Life Cycle of Electronic Devices

This report is developed by Sustainability Lab at University of Oslo, Institute for Informatics and NORSUS. It presents the results of the life cycle assessments (LCAs) for two of the most common electronic devices: the laptop and the mobile phone. We assessed the environmental impacts in all phases of the life cycle of these two devices: resource extraction, manufacturing, transportation, use, and end-of-life. The scope of the study was the use of digital devices in Norway.

Three environmental impact categories were included: climate change, cumulative energy demand and mineral resource scarcity. We compared a linear ‘no repair’ strategy with the most relevant repair scenarios. By linear strategy we mean a strategy where an institution simply buys the digital products they need and discards them when they are no longer in use. We defined a circular strategy as a strategy where an institution introduces measures to repair and extend the lifespan of digital products wherever possible.

The results are presented per year of use per device. In addition, we calculated the different impacts per year for 100 and 1 000 mobile phones and laptops. This will enable institutions and companies in Norway to calculate the potential environmental benefits of implementing a circular, repair-based strategy versus a linear, no-repair strategy. We end the report with a brief case study based on the University of Oslo, an institution with 7 000 employees, as well as with data on the reduction in the impact on climate change if all Norwegians would use their mobile phone and laptop one year or three years longer.



Maja van der Velden