Today, SIM cards are an integral part of mobile communications. But as the telecommunications industry strives to make the world more sustainable, while simultaneously offering consumer convenience and flexibility, the humble SIM card is set to be replaced.
In 2020, the telecommunications industry contributed 2.6% to global carbon dioxide emissions, according to the European Telecommunications Network Operators’ (ETNO) Association.1 Although the sector isn’t the biggest culprit when it comes to waste production and emissions, there is definitely the potential to make processes and materials more sustainable.
The United Nations estimates that around 40 million tons of electronic waste is generated annually, and 80% of this heads straight to landfills.2 Alongside mobile phones, cables, and batteries, SIM card production is a substantial contributor to plastic waste in the telecommunications industry, and that is despite its tiny size – each SIM card needs to be punched out of a credit-card sized plastic sheet, which is then disposed of.
With consumers using ever more SIM cards – switching providers, replacing lost or damaged SIM cards, or for temporary subscriptions, for example – waste is increasing. While industry moves toward the use of recycled plastic SIM cards are a step in the right direction, other solutions can further decrease environmental impact. The move from traditional SIM cards to eSIMs – the greenest SIMs – will help mobile network operators meet their sustainability targets.