About the project sustainablySMART

Full project title: Sustainable Smart Mobile Devices Lifecycles through Advanced Re-design, Reliability, and Re-use and Remanufacturing Technologies

In the past, used electronics components were solely re-used in low-cost products, growing digitalization of our daily lives comes with numerous new product concepts, which could make perfect use of parts and components harvested from used smartphones and tablets.

sustainablySMART demonstrates the feasibility of a ‘design for circular economy’ approach for more conventional mobile IT designs, which includes the implementation of environmental design criteria:

  • long lifetime: reliability of target parts and components for second life / cascade reuse
  • reparability
  • design for manual and automated disassembly
  • accomplishment of verified data erasure compatibility
Tablet study by Fraunhofer IZM: Just how easily can they be recycled or repaired?
Tablet study by Fraunhofer IZM: Just how easily can they be recycled or repaired?

Our Goals and Rationale

An effective circular economy approach for smart mobile devices prioritizes lifetime extension of products and components. Modularized smartphones are a promising concept as they are easy to disassemble, to upgrade and to repair. Technically this calls for standardized interfaces.


Regarding the end of first life of such products, it is a challenge to tap into the upcoming wave of waste mobile ICT devices: Smartphones where introduced to the market at large only in 2009, tablets slightly later. We expect in the near-term future high return rates of these devices, which is confirmed by recycling companies. The market perspective indicates that we only see the beginning of a larger wave of discarded units.


This is a perfect timing to invest in research to reuse and refurbish these products with sophisticated technologies. Apart, we consider technological evolution toward the Internet of Things, which may provide a wide field for cascade re-use of single components.


The consortium includes three research institutions, some outstanding entrepreneurs and innovative technology developers.


The interdisciplinary partnership is dominated by industry from all relevant steps of a future sustainable mobile IT life cycle:

  • product designers
  • electronics manufacturing service
  • test house
  • equipment suppliers
  • machinery manufacturers
  • repair tool provider


24 April 2019

sustainablySMART touches base with the materials research community
Twice a year the materials research community convenes in the US to present and discuss latest findings in materials research. Sustainability is among the focus topics this year, including a symposium “Materials Selection and Design—A Tool to Enable 
... [read more]

22 April 2019

The Data that Remains: Testing Android Phones after Factory Resets
When it comes to mobile phones, the “circular economy” gives second-hand devices a longer life in the hands of users, reduces the need for purchasing brand-new phones, preserves resources and reduces the impact of digital waste on the environment.
This often ... [read more]

Android phone data read-out
Android phone data read-out

10 March 2019
Calculation tool for labelled products under the EPEAT scheme: Extension to mobile phones released
A new version of the EPEAT Benefits Calculator has been released to calculate the environmental impacts of purchasing EPEAT labelled products. This calculator covers mobile phones, servers and computers and displays. Researchers of Fraunhofer IZM ...
[read more]

EPEAT Benefits Calculator
EPEAT Benefits Calculator

31 January 2019

sustainablySMART Policy Brief No.2
The European Commission launched an initiative to harmonise common chargers for mobile phones and similar compatible devices. Life Cycle Assessment results of sustainablySMART indicate, that the environmental impacts of chargers is much more related to ...
[read more]

Standardized chargers are required
Standardized chargers are required

31 January 2019

CARE Innovation Vienna 2018
The conference proceedings are now accessible in our results ...
[read more]