Five of Europe’s largest mobile operators have created a new ‘eco-rating’ labelling scheme that will allow consumers to compare the environmental impact of a particular smartphone and encourage manufacturers to make their products more sustainable.
Telefonica, Deutsche Telekom, Orange, Telia and Vodafone will all display a score out of 100 alongside devices from 12 manufacturers at the point of sale.
This score calculates the cost of producing, using, transporting and disposing the device and is based on five key criteria.
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Mobile phone sustainability
Durability takes into account the robustness, battery life, and guaranteed period of a handset, while repairability and recyclability measure how easy it is to fix and to recover device components.
Climate efficiency is based on the greenhouse gas emissions of the device throughout its entire life cycle, while resource efficiency assesses the impact caused by the scarce raw materials that many devices require.
The labelling will come into effect next month in 24 countries where at least one of the operators’ involved has a presence.
“Building a more sustainable future is our joint responsibility, so we believe the time is right to drive a harmonised, industry-wide Eco Rating Scheme that will improve transparency and help raise awareness of the environmental impact of the phones that our customers choose,” the CEOs of the companies said in a joint-statement.
“We look forward to welcoming more manufacturers and telecoms operators to the Eco Rating initiative in the future, and we hope it will inspire the whole industry to accelerate its transition towards a more circular model for mobile phones.”
The issue of sustainability is an increasingly important one within the industry as every new device manufactured generates carbon emissions across the supply chain and requires the mining of precious metals.
If these devices aren’t resold, recycled, or are disposed of irresponsibly, then emissions will rise, waste will increase and hazardous materials could be released into the environment.
The twelve manufacturers that have signed up are Bullitt Group, which makes CAT and Motorola rugged phones, Doro, HMD Global (which makes Nokia phones under licence), Huawei, MobiWire, Motorola/Lenovo, OnePlus, Oppo, Samsung, TCL/Alcatel, Xiaomi and ZTE. Apple is the major absentee, meaning iPhones won’t be included in the scheme.
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Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.