27 August 2019
Fairphone 3 launch
Today Fairphone released its 3rd smartphone model at a launch event in Berlin. The Fairphone 3 – again - features a high level of modularity. Users are encouraged to repair the device and to exchange broken modules, if really needed. This time the display is fixed with screws, the battery is easily replaceable. Fairphone goes a step beyond “conflict free“ as the gold is fairtrade certified. Pogo pin contacts are still used to connect the display to the mainboard, but all other board-to-board connectors are pluggable designs, with much less gold and printed circuit board footprint compared to the Fairphone 2 design. As such, the environmental footprint is expected to be lower, and the positive effect of lifetime extension is likely to be higher. Modularity lessons learnt, as it seems. The Fairphone 3 was designed and engineered in parallel to the sustainablySMART project. Project findings inspired the design approach. Read more about the Fairphone 3 in this LinkedIn blog and on Fairphone’s website.
20 August 2019
Ready for testing: D4R tablet final assembly
The first few D4R tablets just have been readily assembled by MicroPro in Dublin. Units are on their way to Grant4Com in Finland for CE testing. From September onwards consumers and businesses will have a chance to test devices. Tablets will make their way to the PLATE conference in Berlin, to Austria, Finland, Poland and the United Kingdom.
17 May 2019
The future of smartphone disassembly
Sophisticated dismantling technologies potentially lead to better recovery of some crucial raw materials. Two Horizon 2020 projects, ADIR (“Next generation urban mining - Automated disassembly, separation and recovery of valuable materials from electronic equipment”) and sustainablySMART, tackle the challenge to separate target components containing metals of high interest. These are among others tantalum, cobalt, rare earth elements, tungsten, which are by now largely lost in traditional metallurgical recycling processes.
On May 17th, 2019, the ADIR demonstrator of an automated disassembly technology was presented publicly at the company site of H.C. Starck Niobium and Tantalum GmbH and Electrocycling GmbH in Goslar, Germany. The project’s concept builds on 2D image processing and 3D real-time laser measurement including material identification. Through laser processing components such as tantalum capacitors and SAW filters can selectively be desoldered or cut off of a printed circuit board to gain sorting fractions containing high amounts of valuable materials. Robotic handling and pulsed power technology enable the fragmentation of bare PCBs from mobile phones into components e.g. vibration alerts and loudspeakers. The ADIR demonstrator yields from 1 kg Server-PCBs an output of approx. 4.5 g Tantalum capacitors whereas an input of 1 kg mobile phones results in approx. 38 g Tantalum capacitors.
Whereas the ADIR project targets solely on material recycling sustainablySMART focusses on component reuse and device remanufacturing. For sustainablySMART tantalum capacitors, vibration motors, and loudspeakers are only a “by-catch” on the way to extract in a largely non-destructive way reusable parts and components. As such, ADIR features a high-throughput process and sustainablySMART with ist collaborative robot approach a more gentle handling of devices.
Not surprisingly under these conditions, ADIR demonstrated disassembly processes on the example of some legendary Nokia mobile phones, whereas sustainablySMART has more recent smartphones in the focus. ADIR and sustainablySMART consequently target different age segments of the mobile phone market and have to be
understood as complementary approaches.
An update of the recovery potential of tantalum, tungsten and neodymium from Smartphones will be presented at the Going Green - EcoDesign 2019 Symposium.
The project ADIR is funded under H2020 topic SPIRE-07-2015 - Recovery Technologies for metals and other minerals and coordinated by Fraunhofer ILT.
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 Sustainable Materials Development and a Reduced Materials Footprint”, pulled together by Carol Handwerker (Purdue University), William
Olson (ASM International), Alan Rae (Incubatorworks), and Julie Schoenung (University of California, Irvine).
Erin Gately (Green Electronics Council) pointed out the revised EPEAT criteria development strategy, which is supposed to be more dynamic – and includes a library of optional experimental criteria. This actually could be an interesting field to bring forward sustainability strategies developed in sustainablySMART, such as the various modularity approaches. Hongyue Jin (University of Arizona) reported on the Life Cycle Assessment of Hard Disk Drives (HDD) and particular the recycling of contained magnets. For HDD magnets there are processes in place, if these qualify also for the recycling of loudspeakers from smartphone, which can be extracted with the dismantling technology developed by ProAutomation, remains to be seen. Karsten Schischke (Fraunhofer IZM) presented modularity strategies of the various sustainablySMART partners, in particular the story of the Fairphone 2, backed by carbon footprint data, the concept of the PuzzlePhone and the chosen connector solutions (PuzzleCompatible) and the modules realized with embedding technologies. These approaches result in additional material use for electrical and mechanical connectors, module housings, and PCB footprints. Some of the critical materials we might see more often with more modular products entering the market, are beryllium, neodymium and gold.
Eric Masanet (Northwestern University) gave an outlook on the sustainably impacts of additive manufacturing, pointing out the potential for materials savings and related benefits, but concluding “additive manufacturing can deliver savings, but savings are highly case specific”. On the example of mass production he showed, that there might be a business case and productivity benefits. Initially it was considered to make use of additive manufacturing for the development of the D4R tablet in sustainablySMART, but based on the insights presented by Eric Masanet, it is safe to say, that additive manufacturing is not yet mature enough to yield significant benefits over more conventional processes, which are available to FabLabs.
Closing the 2nd day of the 2019 MRS Spring Meeting the panel discussion on zero-waste strategies made clear once again, that materials cycles are far from being closed, and that “super-heroes” are needed to make a change. Well, some of the “super-heroes” are found among the start-ups and small enterprises working on a more sustainable lifecycle of smart mobile devices.
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 involves recycling materials and reusing components such as the microprocessor and memory storage in mobile devices. For example, if a smartphone has been damaged and doesn’t boot up anymore, chances are high that those components (and others) are fully functional. It is simply a matter of de-soldering and cleaning them so that they are ready to be used again.
However, one of the hazards of giving a mobile phone a second life is that data from the previous user could be discoverable by later owners.
Read the full story in Blancco’s latest Blog by Juho Pörhönen.
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 contributed to the technical review of the extensive data and analysis supporting the benefits calculations and provided feedback on the webbased calculator. Life Cycle Assessment evidence from sustainablySMART has been shared and discussed with the developers of the calculator to make sure, latest insights in environmental life cycle impacts are properly taken into account in this calculator. The EPEAT Benefits Calculator is available for public use at: https://greenelectronicscouncil.org/epeat-benefits-calculator/
20 December 2018
Fairphone compiled first Impact Report
Project partner Fairphone is looking back over the past five years: from successfully building up a community, creating two versions of smartphones and achieving crucial improvements on the supply chain. Now and in future times, Fairphone reflects their progresses and challenges in order to keep their mission. Read the full report:
28 September 2018
Project partner Circular Devices Ltd. discloses new milestone with patent application for modular phone ecosystem
Circular Devices Ltd., the Finnish startup behind the PuzzlePhone, a modular smartphone, announced today the filing of a patent application, “A coaxial connector structure.” The patent forms the foundation for the ecosystem of modularity used by PuzzlePhone, PuzzleIoT, and PuzzleLab. The patent application covers specific details of the non-linear coaxial connector, as well as the mechanism for electrical connectivity and mechanical retention of modules. The connecting system is designed for robustness, simple manufacturing, and high tolerance to insertion misalignments. Connectivity is key with modular systems and it is the main challenge to be solved. Circular Devices embedded technical options for a modular connectivity system which can easily be integrated by third parties in a variety of modules and devices. For the PuzzlePhone and the PuzzleLab ecosystem, the patent represents a major milestone as it demonstrates progress and makes the roadmap ahead clear for the entire project. The connector is the key element for the whole ecosystem compatibility. This announcement comes just weeks after the PuzzleIoT’s declaration that it would transform the router market. The connecting system offers greater design freedom by not requiring modules to be slotted in from an open end, and it allows features, such as a front facing camera, to be pocketed into the modules with minimal loss of space.
28 September 2018
Crowdfunding campaign of project partner Fairphone is successfully completed
Fairphone has managed to raise 2.5 million euros through a crowdfunding campaign. The first target of one million euro was hit just a week after the private launch and three days after the public launch of the campaign. With this money, the company wants to scale up the production of fair smartphones and develop new initiatives, but above all, to further increase the positive impact of their activities.
1 August 2018
Project partner Fairphone has collected more than a million euros in investments
From now on, Fairphone’s crowdfunding campaign, which was initially in private mode, is publicly available on the Oneplanetcrowd platform. Within the last days, Fairphone has managed to collect
more than one million euros in investment funds.
The campaign aims to secure investments of one million euros - with a ceiling of 2.5 million euros. Investors can participate in the Dutch social business with amounts between 250 and 5,000 euros. The current campaign is specifically designed to invest in smaller amounts, which can optionally be converted into shares. With the collected sum, Fairphone will work effectively on improvements in making more material supply chains fair and expand in the company's growth.
Fairphone was founded as a campaign within the Waag Society of Bas van Abel in 2010 and drives the movement of fairer electronic further. Fairphone opened their supply chain and built on the relationship between consumer and their product to extend the market with ethical values. Thus Fairphone got certified by the Blue Angel label and won the German Environmental Award.
So far, more than 160.000 Fairphones are sold. Link to campaign:
21 May 2018
Welcome to the jungle: The latest PuzzlePhone blog sheds some light on the vast number of eco labels
Alejandro Santacreu, leading the team behind the PuzzlePhone, explains why ecolabels matter and how they influence new product developments like the PuzzlePhone, and what they mean to consumers. To some of the label developments the project sustainablySMART already provided technical input, such as the Blue Angel revision for mobile phones. The project is also liaising with the Green Electronics Council and EPEAT on assessing the environmental benefits of individual eco-design features. And there are a kind of grass root labels, which just emerged from some individual action and gained an enormous visibility, such as iFixit’s reparability score, which currently gets a scientific overhaul as part of the sustainablySMART project. Read more on eco labels in the PuzzlePhone blog:
16 March 2018
Oulu Businesses on the move towards a Circular Economy
The Oulu region of Finland is not only home to project partner Grant4Com but also many other entrepreneurial companies in the business of sustainable materials, product refurbishment and recycling. Oulu University of Applied Sciences brought together local businesses and sustainablySMART partners on March 15, 2018, to explore R&D cooperation opportunities.
MicroPro and GMIT Letterfrack seized the opportunity to present publicly for the first time the latest D4R tablet prototype. The event hosted by Department of Natural Resources and Department of Civil Engineering of OUAS, in collaboration with BusinessOulu, unveiled not only the innovation potential of local businesses but also a significant interest in joining forces with sustainablySMART partners.
9 February 2018
Towards a Circular Economy
The Going Green – CARE INNOVATION symposium on electr(on)ics and the environment will take place in Vienna, Austria, from November 26 – 29, 2018. This biennial conference and exhibition is the international platform for demonstrating the development of resource-efficient innovative products and services as well as processes and presenting the state-of-the-art progress on Circular Economy. This year’s program provides a huge spectrum of the latest issues in Circular Economy from experts in industry, academia, consulting and recycling and from public authorities worldwide. Apart from new eco-efficient technologies, clean manufacturing opportunities, energy efficiency and climate change, aspects from reuse and refurbishment, critical materials will be discussed together with reverse logistics and policy making at the congress. Companies from the wide range fields of electr(on)ics, automotive, solar and PV, chemical and recycling industry, material and component suppliers, electricity generators and distributors are contributing to the conference.
The call for papers, posters, tutorials or invited sessions end on 31 May 2018. More information about the Going Green – CARE INNOVATION 2018:
25 January 2018
Policy measures on product design, critical raw materials and battery lifetime can significantly contribute to sustainable product lifecycles
The research of sustainablySMART identifies numerous innovative approaches to improve the lifecycle of mobile IT devices. With the right policy measures in place, such as the Ecodesign Directive, the Conflict Minerals Regulation and the Product Environmental Footprint, some of the project results could yield an even higher impact.
At the conference „The Ecodesign Directive in a changing policy climate: challenges & opportunities“ organised by eceee and Lund University in Brussels key findings of the project are presented today along with a first policy brief, outlining some of the policy conclusions.
24 January 2018
Circularity at Going Green EcoDesign 2017
The 10th international symposium on environmentally conscious design and inverse manufacturing took place in Tainan, Taiwan, in the last week of November. Under the leading motto ‘New
technologies and Eco-Innovation Towards Sustainability’ durable design approaches for products, services, manufacturing systems, supply chain, consumption, economics and society were discussed in
an international round. Technologies for the future such as the Internet of things, Industry 4.0 or 3D printing are developing fast and can play a helpful role for eco-efficient design solutions
in moving towards sustainability.
Social perspectives in EcoDesign e.g. sustainable social infrastructure systems like smart or green city concepts as well as photovoltaic technology in transportation roads or social impacts of emerging technologies were presented in organized sessions. Moreover aspects of EcoDesign policy principles and their related policy instruments were reflected including the economic impacts of environmental regulations.
Members of the sustainablySMART consortium explained how the EU Circular Economy Action Plan takes the entire life cycle of products and possible loops for their components and materials into account rather than focusing on EoL activities only. A Circular Economy strategy has to define whether a longer first life or a component second life has to be prioritized. Besides, the Action Plan acknowledges the significance of the product design phase, in which the environmental impacts of the product life cycle are largely predetermined. Better design can make products more durable or easier to repair, upgrade, remanufacture, or recycle, and thus help to save resources! Read full paper here:
10 November 2017
Modularity explained at PLATE 2017 conference
This year’s Product Lifetimes And The Environment PLATE conference took place in Delft, the Netherlands. Besides the central theme of design for longevity numerous other facets of product
lifetime optimization have been discussed in detail, including consumer and cultural perspectives as well as business opportunities in a circular economy. Since a huge amount of resources is
embedded in electronic products these devices require special attention because of their high impact. Members of the sustainablySMART consortium focused on how modularity of electronic functions
can lead to longer product lifetimes. Nils Nissen, Fraunhofer, explained “How modularity of electronic functions can lead to longer product lifetimes”: Modularity enables do-it-yourself repairs
and upgrades. This increases the resource efficiency of especially modern mobile devices. The Fairphone 2 is an example, where the housing opens easily to access individual building blocks
of the smartphone. And the modular concept of the PuzzlePhone consists of only three modules: the battery, the display and the main electronics part.
Bernd Kopacek, SAT, gave a presentation on “Intelligent disassembly of components from printed circuit boards to enable re-use and more efficient recovery of critical metals”, which assembles findings from several FP7 and H2020 projects, including sustainablySMART. Conference papers have been published. Find Open Access here:
1 November 2017
MicroPro presents second design iteration of the iameco D4R tablet incorporating eco-design criteria
The project sustainablySMART progresses to deliver unique new product concepts and demonstrators for mobile IT devices, one of them being the idea of a tablet suitable for
digital fabrication in a After developing an Alpha Prototype of the iameco D4R tablet in February 2017, MicroPro processed an improved Beta Prototype in the end of October 2017. Based on Circular
Economy principles, the tablet incorporates MicroPro’s eco-design criteria of upgradability, updateability, reusability, recyclability and ease of disassembly. The Beta Prototype fulfills these
principles and represents longevity, reliability, reparability and robustness. A reparability assessment by sustainablySMART partner iFixit is still pending.
Due to the Design for Reuse, future changes or replacements of components e.g. the mainboard are readily feasible, so the chassis has several lives and can be used again and again. The Beta
prototype uses especially renewable, recycled or recyclable materials in the housing: the chassis is made out of recycled aluminum and the back cover consists of birch, maple or other wood. The
design improvements of this beta prototype include a reduced number of parts, redesigning the housing and the chassis as well as material changing.
MicroPro announced that a third final prototype will be designed and manufactured in a FabLab equivalent environment which is fully adapted for commercial manufacture. This third prototype will be due in spring 2018.
17 October 2017
SustainablySMART research reflected in Greenpeace environmental ranking of IT companies
Greenpeace USA published their latest Guide to Greener Electronics which provides an analysis of what 17 of the world’s leading consumer electronics companies are doing to address their
environmental impacts, and where Greenpeace thinks work still needs to be done. In this report sustainablySMART partner Fairphone ranks first, acknowledging that Fairphone is one of the notable
exceptions to the design trend of products being difficult to service or upgrade and thus shortening the useful life of otherwise functional devices. The fact that the Fairphone 2 can be
upgraded now with an improved camera is explicitly mentioned in the report. Similarly, the recyclability study on the Fairphone 2, funded from the H2020 budget, is cited to demonstrate, that a
modular product design as found in the Fairphone 2 is also likely to increase recycling rates of some critical materials. Benchmarking the repairability of products has been a joint activity of
Greenpeace and another sustainablySMART partner: iFixit. Besides Fairphone the two companies HP and Dell achieve good grades in the area of resource consumption due to increasingly modular and
repairable product designs. Apple is second place in the overall ranking due to outstanding achievements in reduction of greenhouse gases through efficiency and renewable energy.
Read the full report here:
11 October 2017
SustainablySMART partners iFixit and Fraunhofer IZM will share insights in repairability and product design features for a Circular
This year, Europe's largest communication campaign on the theme of waste prevention takes place on November 18-26 in Berlin. Led by the motto "Give things a second life", the launch event on 20th November at the Federal Press Office in Berlin focuses the issue how repairment can be strengthened in Germany to avoid further waste and to save natural resources for the purposes of climate protection and for a Circular Economy.
Along with fundamental matters such as a sustainable product design, this event provides a discussion platform about specific political means to promote repairment.
22 September 2017
European Commission supports H2020 projects with Common Exploitation Booster services
On September 22, 2017 the sustainablySMART consortium met for a business plan development workshop in Pyla, Cyprus. This service is offered by the European Commission to funded projects
with the intention to support the exploitation of project results. As sustainablySMART progresses multiple business opportunities arise and it is time to make dedicated exploitation plans and to
implement these. Building on principles of a Circular Economy is particularly challenging as several players throughout a value chain have to benefit in parallel. Following a lean canvas approach
the workshop discussed the specifics of several business cases. How to get into production with a sustainable product concept being one of them, how a telecom operator can benefit from a circular
business model being another one. More information about the Common Exploitation Booster:
4 July 2017
Fairphone and PuzzlePhone featured on EuroparlTV
Members of the European Parliament adopted a report calling for concrete measures to tackle short lifetimes of products. A video of the European Parliament’s TV channel features Fairphone and Circular Devices, partners in the project sustainablySMART, as outstanding entrepreneurs developing smartphone designs with longer product lifetimes in mind. The European Parliament “recalls that the availability of standardised and modular components, disassembly planning, long-duration product design and efficient production processes have an important role to play in implementing the circular economy successfully”, all aspects being addressed by sustainablySMART.
28 February 2017
Fairphone presents its recyclability study at
Mobile World Congress 2017
Every year Mobile World Congress showcases the latest innovations in the mobile industry. At this year’s MWC, Fairphone looked beyond technology to explore how innovation could have a wider-reaching impact and guide the electronics industry towards more social and sustainable practices.
Over the past year, Fairphone has expanded their investigation of the entire lifecycle of smartphones, paying special attention to the potential impact of modularity in terms of production, use and recycling. During the panel discussion, Fairphone representatives, experts from iFixit and Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft shared their insights and offered evidence that modular design may help reduce the environmental impact of consumer electronics. While recycling is often viewed as a reasonable solution for sustainability, the study showed that the truth is far more nuanced, and that recycling comes with its own environmental costs. The study examined possible recycling scenarios for the Fairphone 2. The goal was to determine the best approach concerning material recovery rates.
Monique Lempers, Commercial & Value Chain Director at Fairphone remarked, “Based on currently available recycling methods, the study showed that disassembling
the phone before recycling would lead to the greatest amount of recovered materials. Modularity makes our phones easier to disassemble, but the best-case scenario still only recovers around one
third of the original materials.” The limitations of today’s recycling industry reinforce the importance of creating long-lasting products. Fairphone’s recent Life Cycle Assessment, completed by
the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, confirms the environmental advantages of this approach. It found that five years of use based a repair scenario would reduce the Global Warming Potential (GWP or CO2
emissions) by about 30%. Karsten Schischke, Senior Researcher at the Fraunhofer IZM explained, “The highest environmental impact stems from the phone’s production phase, especially the printed
circuit boards and semiconductors. Comparatively, the battery, display and back cover have a rather low impact. Fairphone’s modularity makes it easy to replace these parts and keep the phone
working. But user behavior is key – in order to reduce overall impact, they have to make the effort to complete the repairs instead of replacing the entire device.”
Fairphone recognizes this limitation, which is why fast, easy repair is at the core of their design approach. Repair experts iFixit awarded the Fairphone 2 with a
perfect 10 out of 10 for reparability. Fairphone owners have also proven how easy the phone is to fix, with an estimated 95% success rate for DIY repairs.
22 January 2017
REFIND introduced their latest machine at the 16th International Electronics Recycling Congress IERC 2017
The International Electronics Recycling Congress 2017 welcomed this year again EEE producers, recyclers, equipment manufacturers, recycling associations, standards bodies, NGO’s and regulators on January 17-20 in Salzburg, Austria.
REFIND Technologies exhibited as usual at the 16th IERC 2017. Johanna Reimers, the CEO, was speaking about sorting technology in one of the seminars - "Is More Technology Really the Solution to the Challenges within Circular Economy?” - was the leading question during the discussion.
New for this year: REFIND brought their latest machine - a small desktop sorting unit including a robotic pick arm, which can sort phones and fish.
30 November 2016
European Commission intends to develop eco-design requirements for smartphones
The European Commission published the new Ecodesign Working Plan 2016-19 defining priority product groups for upcoming regulations under the Ecodesign Framework Directive 2009/125/EC. For information and communication (ICT) products the European Commission acknowledges a high circular economy potential, “which is particularly relevant in the case of mobile / smart phones”. The Working Plan explicitly mentions durability, reparability, upgradeability, design for disassembly and ease of reuse and recycling as being important in this regard. The research of sustainablySMART will lead to technical solutions, how to address these aspects and will define Best Available Technologies (BAT) as potential benchmarks for future ecodesign legislation. We expect to see a first draft of possible measures in the next 2 to 3 years.
Cooperation with other projects: CloseWEEE
The main goal of the CloseWEEE project is to increase the range and yield of recovered materials from WEEE streams materials which can then be re-used for practical applications. An important aspect of this, is the separation and recovery of different Brominated Flame Retardant (BFR) and non-BFR plastics.
Cooperation with other projects: FUTURING
FUTURING aims at contributing to define the strategy for the re-industrialization of Europe, by focusing on the role of Research and Innovation within the framework of Circular Economy. It explores 2030 future scenarios, concerning EU Industry, through the use of foresight and other Policy Intelligence tools, to identify critical factors on which action should be taken in order to overcome barriers and to foster opportunities for the EU re-industrialization process.
Cooperation with other projects: HydroWEEE project
The aim of the HydroWEEE project was the recovery of base, precious and critical metals from WEEE including lamps, batteries, accumulators, CRTs and PCBs to extract high-purity metals by developing a mobile pilot plant. Disassembled components from sustainablySMART can be recovered in HydroWEEE’s mobile plants.