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Modular Phones, E-Waste and the Shift Toward Sustainable Electronics

Makers of modular smartphones hope to pioneer a new generation of replaceable, fixable and longer-lasting gadgets.


“Better and faster can happen sustainably … cheaper is going to be hard.”

When Jonas Allen, director of marketing at the Green Electronics Council, toured the floor at CES in Las Vegas earlier this month, the industry’s annual new product rollout, he brought a slightly different perspective to bear on the cavalcade of booths, black boxes and consumer hype. Sure, others walking the floor had supply chains and design specs on their mind, but while most were squarely focused on the moment, and the promise of future technology that had finally arrived, he was also thinking about the actual future of these products, which in many cases, could be landfills or the back of someone’s drawer.

His organization, which has been around for a decade, has seen the consumer electronics industry adapt better sustainability practices — less toxic waste, more recycled plastic and better packaging — but he feels there’s a lot more work to be done, especially in the environmental and social realms.

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