Study: Apple is the Greenest Smartphone Company, Followed By Google And Sony

Producing a new smartphone is extremely damaging to the environment.

Mining rare earth metals such as scandium, terbium and neodymium, which are used in components such as screens and speakers, causes huge amounts of pollution.

Not to mention, once raw materials are removed from the ground they must be refined, which involves nasty chemical treatments, as well as smelting, which produces massive amounts of carbon emissions.

Here at Green Smartphones, we decided to find out which smartphone manufacturers are the best when it comes to environmental outcomes, based on the sustainability of their manufacturing process, as well as their attitudes towards emissions and waste reduction.

Most and least sustainable smartphone manufacturers

RankCompanyDirect GHG emissions (change from previous year)Carbon neutral?Net zero targetPlastic packaging reduction100% renewable electricity?Proportion of waste diverted from landfillRecycling targetProportion of recycled materials usedDevices recycled last yearScore
1Apple-9.96%Yes203065% since 2015, goal to eliminate by 2025Yes70%None for waste produced, aims to use 100% recycled materials, no date"Nearly 20%"18m devices, including computers and iPads9
2Google+16.49%YesAchieved through offsetsGoal to eliminate by 2025Yes77%None100% recycled alumnium on Pixels, some recycled plasticsUnknown, does have a recycling program7
No, aiming for 2030204015% since 2018 across all productsNo, goal of 100% by 203098.5%Achieved, 98.5%Some recycled plastics70,000 tons, third parties5.5
No2050Goal to eliminate by 2025No95%100% by 2025Some recycled plasticsNone4.5
NoNoneUnknownNoUnknownNoneNone108516 devices3
NoAll buildings by 2050, no global target89% on P50 phones compared to P40NoUnknownNoneNone11826 tonnes2.5
7Oppo-6.28%NoNone95% since 2020, in EuropeNoUnknownNoneNone216 tons through trade-in program2.5
8Alcatel-37.57%NoNoneUnknown, overall plastic usage increased by 14,800 tonnesNoUnknownNoneNoneNone2
9Motorola-10.50%NoNoneUnknown1% of all energy used is renewable42%50% in 2022NoneNone1.5
NoNone60% since 2019NoUnknownNoneNoneUnknown, does have a recycling program1


To assess the relative environmental sustainability of the world’s biggest smartphone manufacturers, we compared their performance in the following areas:

  • Direct greenhouse gas emission increase/decrease, past year: where reported, we looked at Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions.
  • Carbon neutrality: whether or not the company has a concrete carbon neutrality target, where they were not carbon neutral already.
  • Net zero target: when the manufacturer aimed to achieve net zero emissions across its operations.
  • Plastic packaging reduction: what steps if any the manufacturer took to reduce the use of plastics, especially single use, in its packaging.
  • 100% renewable electricity: manufacturers received bonus points if their used renewable electricity in their direct operations, or had plans to do so in the near future.
  • Proportion of waste recycled.
  • Recycling target: we assessed how much waste a manufacturer aims to divert from landfill, and their timeline for doing so, where reported.
  • Percentage of recycled materials: what proportion of a company’s smartphone manufacturing materials are recycled.
  • Devices recycled: the number or weight of old smartphones recycled by a company directly or through a recycling scheme it runs.

For each metric, we gave the company either 0, 0.5, 1, 1.5, or 2 points. For example, Oppo has no net zero goal, so it received zero points in this area.

We then calculated the total points from each company in order to rank them.


In performing this analysis, we did not include all smartphone manufacturers – instead, we chose to only analyse companies that sell at least one million handsets a year, on average.

There are sustainable smartphone manufacturers, like Fairphone, that perform much better than the manufacturers on this list. However, since they do not hold a large amount of market share at the moment, the environmental performance of these larger manufacturers is more important to assess.

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