Environmental Impact of Your iPhone 5

Photo: iStockphoto

People don’t generally use the same cell phone for more than two years. So when one reaches the end of the line, what’s left? An ounce or two of hazardous waste, maybe. But is it one ounce or two? And how hazardous exactly?

It all depends on the model.

HealthyStuff.com and iFixit.com opened up models from the leading manufacturers – for example, Apple, LG, Motorola, Research in Motion, and Samsung – to check for toxics that could be released into the environment if their phones are not properly disposed of.

If the phones wind up in an incinerator or landfill, for example, substances like bromine, chlorine, lead, mercury, and cadmium could end up polluting the air, soil, and groundwater.

Motorola in front

The Motorola Citrus scored best in the test, followed by the LG Remarq and the iPhone 4S. Samsung ranked fourth with the Captivate.

The first iPhone was the most toxic of all models examined, but every new series after that has shown an improvement – not only in technology, but also in the environmental impact. The iPhone 4S ranked second overall. Although the iPhone 5 demonstrated a slight slip backwards (it came in at number five in the overall standings), it is certainly no crying matter.