I was inspired to find the real facts of the environmental impact of cell phone usage and manufacturing after the tremendous interview that Michelle Fields for PJ Media did with Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
Over half of a phone's negative environmental impacts occur during the manufacturing process. Each phone consists of 500 to 1,000 components that must be shaped and fitted together in polluting factories most are currently located in China.
During the cell phone's use, its environmental impact results from the electricity generated to power wireless infrastructure and charge our phones. In just one year, it is estimated that one cell phone uses the energy equivalent to 32 gallons of gas, and emits 112 kilograms of carbon dioxide (CO2). Modern cell phone chargers can draw about half a watt of power, even when there is no cell phone connected to them.
According to the report, using a cellphone for a year on average uses 4,221 MJ of energy (equivalent to 32 gallons of gasoline) and emits 112 kg of CO2 (equivalent to 12.8 gallons of gasoline). These values take into account the entire system and all the energy and materials needed to manufacture and run it: the phones, base stations, switching system, cable system, and administration. It assumes that each phone is used for one year and then replaced.
Consumers dispose of more than 350,000 mobile phones every day. According to the EPA, 141 million mobile phones were discarded in 2009 and only 12 million of those were collected for recycling. Roughly 100 million mobile phones are discarded in Europe and China each year.
Radiation given off by mobile phones and other high-tech gadgets is also suspected to cause problems for creatures who can't vocalize dissent. Cell phones are one possible reason for the recent increase in the occurrence of bee colony collapse disorder. The theory is that radiation from cell phones interfere with bee's navigation systems, and thus prevent them from returning to the hive.