Friday, September 3, 2010

Mobile industry faces long road to "Green"

FRAMINGHAM, USA: Given the ubiquity of mobile phones around the globe, it is critical for the manufacturers of these devices to demonstrate their corporate responsibility by working toward greener phones that simplify safe and proper disposal and even reuse of the billions of mobile phones in the market.

According to International Data Corporation (IDC), mobile phone recycling is amazingly low today, with rates of 10 percent considered good.

To better understand where the mobile industry stands on sustainability, IDC used five criteria (packaging, materials, energy, end-of-life program, and overall sustainability efforts) and 20 sub-criteria to create a green ranking of 10 key mobile device manufacturers. The top 5 mobile device manufacturers in terms of their sustainability policies and practices are (in alphabetical order): Apple, LG, Nokia, Samsung, and Sony Ericsson.

Apple - Apple recycles in 95 percent of the countries where its products are sold, including the United States, India, China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, New Zealand, Korea, and Australia. Apple has been a leader in influencing its supply chain and has taken strong steps as a key advocate for others to develop green technologies. This goes up to the executive level, where Steve Jobs is very active in the company's green efforts.

LG - LG has made strides in its power management, including the development of a solar charger, and seeks to continue to deploy such solutions throughout its entire line of products. LG has reduced the standby power within its mobile chargers, and handsets have a charger reminder that beeps when the handset is fully charged.

Nokia - Nokia is particularly strong in the area of materials where between 65 percent and 80 percent of any Nokia device can be recycled and the rest, primarily plastics, can be used to fuel the recycling process. The company has also gone the furthest in its use of recycled materials.

Samsung - Samsung scored well in its reduction of hazardous materials; for example, all new model phones were free of BFRs by January 1, 2009, and free of PVCs by July 1, 2009. Samsung has set dates of December 31, 2012, for making mobile phones free of phthalates, beryllium, brominated compounds, and antimony trioxide.

Sony Ericsson - Sony Ericsson has optimized packaging to be more environmentally friendly by including recycling mailers and developing lighter boxes saving 80% on CO2 emissions from transport versus the standard box. Sony Ericsson completely replaced paper manuals with electronic manuals and saved 350 tons of paper on 1 million phones, equaling 13,000 trees and 7,500 cubic meters of water.

"IDC used a variety of primary and secondary sources to obtain information on mobile device manufacturers' packaging, materials, energy, end-of-life programs, and overall sustainability efforts to develop the green ranking methodology," said Stephen Drake, program vice president for Mobility & Telecom for IDC.

"IDC spoke with the vendors directly, physically inspected the packaging, devices, and accessories of mobile phone manufacturers, and leveraged published corporate responsibility reports and other corporate and product environmental reports as available. IDC also reviewed other third-party rating and watchdog sites such as ENERGY STAR and Greenpeace."

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