G+D Magazine
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Green eSIM

Digitalizing the SIM process: eSIM management technology replaces physical SIM cards to save on plastics, CO₂, and logistics.

SIM cards have a long, successful history keeping the world connected. Over the years, their technology and capacity has increased greatly. At the same time, their size has decreased, yet their sustainable impact has remained stagnant.  

Although the plugin size continues to shrink, the typical SIM is still supplied as a credit card-like square of plastic with an inserted chip module. The chip module (aka the plugin) is then popped out of the card body and inserted into a device, while the plastic frame is thrown away.

Each time users exchange SIM cards due to a mobile network operator (MNO) change, plastic waste increases. This is further exacerbated by plastic roaming cards, temporary subscriptions, as well as lost or damaged SIM cards.

While one option to make SIM cards more sustainable is to reduce the card’s credit card-like frame and use more eco-friendly plastic, a more sustainable way is to make the entire process digital.

G+D’s embedded SIM (eSIM) management solution saves the use of extra materials and reduces waste and logistics. eSIM management replaces traditional, removable SIM cards with an embedded SIM chip, thus eliminating the need for extra plastic. Instead of transporting physical SIM cards, which typically come with plastic packaging, eSIM management allows for digitally loading SIM data anywhere around the globe.

Infographic: Environmental impact of physical SIM cards produced in 2021

eSIM management: A green solution

eSIMs have the potential to both change the SIM technology landscape and make a positive impact on climate change. By implementing an eSIM, users not only save themselves time, stress, and hassle, they also create less waste, which streamlines the production and distribution processes.

How eSIM management is good for the environment:

  • Less CO₂: With eSIM, the physical production process of plastic cards and customer packaging, as well as extensive transport logistics, are no longer necessary.
  • Fewer SIM cards: SIM cards no longer need to be  physically replaced for an update. Instead, a new eSIM can be simply downloaded.  
  • No logistic footprint: Plastic SIM cards cause a complex logistic chain around the globe – mostly by plane. By comparison, the eSIM uses almost no physical logistics.

Saving resources

One of the main ways eSIM management helps the environment is by eliminating the need for extra resources. This cuts down harmful waste as well as saves companies cost in labor, materials, and production and processing time.

How eSIM management saves resources:

  • No packaging: Thanks to the eSIM’s digitalization, bulky, plastic SIM packages are no longer required.
  • Saving raw materials: eSIMs further reduce the need for plastic because they are soldered directly into the device.
  • Digital sale: MNOs can sell eSIMs digitally. There is no need for customers to travel to MNO shops or order physical cards online.
  • Leaner devices: eSIMs require less space in mobile devices and SIM card holders are no longer necessary.

eSIM enhances the user’s journey

In addition to all the cost and environmental benefits of the eSIM, this embedded technology enhances the user’s experience as well. As the convenience and cost-saving aspects of eSIM become more well-known, users will start to choose the eSIM over traditional, removable SIM chips.

How the eSIM creates a more efficient user journey:

  • Convenient: Mobile contracts can be activated quickly and digitally without the need to drive to a shop or wait for a SIM to arrive by post.
  • Frictionless: With the eSIM, users will no longer need to find the right SIM card size or struggle to insert the plugins into the device.
  • Flexible: Users who have only one phone but use different MNOs will no longer need to carry and swap out multiple SIM cards. Instead, changing the MNO can be done completely digitally.
Infographic: eSIM customer journey

A disruption to the traditional supply chain

Without the logistic of traditional SIM cards, the standard supply chain could eventually disappear. This will save companies time, money, and resources, as well as cutdown on the environmental impact associated with transportation and packaging.

Infographic: The traditional supply chain of a SIM card

How eSIMs will disrupt the traditional supply chain:

  • Fewer flights: When it comes to climate change, air travel is one of the most impactful forms of transportation. By requiring fewer physical pieces, eSIMs reduce the number of air shipments needed and, eventually, they will not be required at all.
  • Less factory production: Less plastic and physical materials mean fewer items need to be produced by factories. This reduces the resources needed to operate a factory as well as the harmful chemicals and waste that typically come with industrial production.
  • Reduced customer transportation: Because users will no longer need to travel to shops to purchase physical SIM cards, this reduces their transportation footprint whether it’s by car, bus, or train.
  • Reduced materials: Because updates and MNO changes can be handled digitally, eSIMs eliminate the need for distributors to produce extra materials and for customers to purchase them.




Cover of green eSIM report

Study on the sustainable eSIM

G+D launched a life cycle assessment (LCA) of the pluggable SIM card and the eSIM together with the Fraunhofer IZM. Read more about the interesting findings here.

More insights into sustainability

Logo of Green eSIM by G+D

The greener SIM

The eSIM is the more sustainable SIM! And with a clear margin which has been confirmed in a recent comparative lifecycle assessment of the pluggable SIM and the eSIM.

A woman operates her smartphone

The green SIM is the eSIM

There are significant environmental benefits in using an eSIM. CO₂ output is greatly reduced – and it is worth considering the extent of this reduction. Not only is plastic waste minimized if the SIM card goes fully digital, but also the entire production process, from plastic sourcing to distribution, is eliminated.

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G+D is aware of its corporate responsibility and actively promotes environmentally and socially sustainable development. We want to further intensify our commitment and transform our company step by step.

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5G IoT Summit at MWC23

How to unlock the potential of sustainable IoT at scale: Download G+D’s keynote now and stay in touch with us to simplify, secure, and scale your IoT connectivity!

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