Towards a sustainable business model for smartphones: Combining product-service systems with modularity


Based on the Sustainable Development Goals introduced by the United Nations and on the circular economy concept, ICT providers are adapting to become more sustainable. Some assess the CO2 emissions in the whole life cycle, while others propose to use renewable energies during manufacturing and assembling. In contrast with the current smartphone business models that rely on ongoing patterns of production and consumption, this paper proposes a more sustainable approach by combining product modularity, Product-Service Systems (PSS), and design for attachment. With a modular design, it becomes easier to repair the product or to replace parts, allowing for an extended lifespan. In combination with PSS, we propose that the modules, when no longer used by one customer, return to the market to be reused by another one. Lastly, we discuss the impact of the users’ behaviour through emotional bond, personalization, and technology appropriation as predictors of attachment to the product and consequently an extended lifespan. Through comparing case studies and using Life Cycle Assessment to calculate the CO2 equivalent emissions, we argue that our approach would directly reduce the environmental impact of the smartphone on the production phase, which accounts for most of the emissions throughout its life cycle.

ICT4S2018. 5th International Conference on Information and Communication Technology for Sustainability