Research Approach

Lifecycle thinking

Our research takes a lifecycle approach to mobile phones: from conception as technology design to the mining of minerals in Africa and South America to produce its materials; from the manufacturing sites in Asia to mobile phone use in Europe; and finally to repair, recycling, and waste.


In order to analyse the sustainability of mobile phones, we use three guiding resources. The first one is a set of Planetary Boundaries - which are central to the Earth System framework proposed by a group of Earth System and environmental scientists, led by Johan Rockström from the Stockholm Resilience Centre and Will Steffen from the Australian National University. The second resource is a set of eleven priorities, which form the Social Foundation for overcoming human deprivation, as raised in the UN’s Rio+20 conference and described by economist Kate Raworth. Taken together, these two resources overlap, but also extend, with the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).


The SMART project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 693642. The contents of this website are the sole responsibility of the SMART project and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.