The Environmental Impact of eSIMs: A Greener Way to Connect

January 26, 2024

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There’s no getting away from it – plastic is all around us and our heavy reliance on this material is producing 400 million tonnes of plastic waste every year.

If you are finding that amount hard to visualise, this amount would cover an area larger than Japan, or almost cover the state of California

But what do SIMs and eSIMs have to do with the environment?

Well, actually, quite a lot.

A smartphone, such as an iPhone X, creates an incredible 79kg of carbon dioxide during it’s ‘life’ and two fifths of this is produced before it is even used, and the production of SIM cards themselves generate 20,000 tonnes of plastic waste in 2021 alone.

But what can we do about it?

The impact of technology on the environment is huge, however phones and their associated technology have become such a big part of our everyday lives that living without them is unimaginable.

As a result, the telecommunications industry is now working collaboratively on an industry-wide goal to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to achieve Net-Zero by 2050 and is making steps to make reductions.

One of the major changes is using eSIMS instead of SIM cards in phones.

In this article, we are going to explore:
·       Mobile Technology & The Effect on the Environment
·       Positive Impacts of eSIM Technology on the Environment

Mobile Technology & The Effect on the Environment

According to the Trusted Connectivity Alliance’s (TCA) study on ‘Improving the Environmental Credentials of the SIM Industry’, the mobile and SIM industry are having an impact on the environment inthe following areas:

Energy Consumption and Green House Gas(GHG) Emissions
The telecommunications industry is energy-intensive, and the ongoing digital world takeover and the increased interest in up-to-date technology isn’t helping.

Plastic Waste
SIM card shipments were estimated at 4.35billion, generating around 20,000 tons of plastic waste.

Manufacturing and Material Use
80% of the carbon emissions caused bymobiles comes from the manufacturing process.

eSIMS however can alleviate a lot of these issues and are already making a positive impact which we explore below.

Positive Impacts of eSIM Technology on the Environment

eSIMS combat a lot of the mobile industry’s emissions and turn the negative impacts into positive ones by:

Reducing Plastic Waste: The shift from physical SIM cards to eSIMs significantly cuts down on plastic usage, addressing the environmental impact associated with producing and disposing of billions of SIM cards annually.

Lower CO2 Emissions: As eSIM technology is digital, it eliminates the need for the physical production, packaging, and distribution of SIM cards, reducing CO2 emissions.

Less Need for Supply Chains: eSIM technology leads to fewer flights and less factory production.


In conclusion, physical SIM cards have a negative impact on the environment, but the emerging eSIM technology is turning this around and is helping to reduce the environmental impact of our technology driven world.

The benefits of eSIMs extend far beyond convenience and user experience, offering a solution to reduce some of the emissions created by the mobile industry.

It's clear that embracing eSIMs is not just about a more reliable phone signal than roaming and keeping in touch withloved ones while travelling the world, but also making a conscious choice for the environment.

You can find more information on eSIMS, including how to get one for your next trip, by visiting our FAQs page.

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