Vodafone launches a new Eco Rating for mobile phones
Author: Zo Zhou
Planet Ark congratulates Vodafone Australia on the launch of a new Eco Rating designed to help consumers choose a more sustainable mobile phone.
There is no doubt that mobile phones have changed our lives and provide many benefits. But with 1.8 billion handsets sold around the world in 2011, and with consumers in developed countries upgrading their handsets every 12 to 24 months, the environmental and ethical impacts of mobile phones need to be considered.
Mobile phones have impacts at every stage of their life cycle, from raw material extraction through materials processing, manufacture, distribution, use, repair and maintenance, and disposal or recycling. Most of the impacts occur in the production stage, which incorporates raw material extraction and processing as well as manufacture.
Vodafone’s Eco Rating compares and rates the environmental and ethical impacts of many of the mobile phones that Vodafone sells. Presented as an easy to understand score from one to five (where five is the most sustainable), the Eco Rating is based on manufacturers’ answers to over 200 questions assessing the impacts of a phone across three areas:
- Green design, which considers elements like the use of recycled material in the phone, energy saving features, whether hazardous substances have been eliminated, and how easy the handset is to recycle.
- Mobile phone life cycle, which focuses on areas like the energy and raw materials required to produce a handset, the carbon emissions generated during production and transport, how the phone is used, and end of life disposal.
- Company performance, which looks at how committed the manufacturer is to managing environmental and ethical issues in their own company and their suppliers, focusing on things like water management, preventing pollution, labour conditions, and health and safety for workers.
Vodafone is displaying the Eco Rating scores with mobile phones where they are sold, either in their stores or on their website at www.vodafone.com.au/ecorating.
The answers to the manufacturers’ questions are checked by independent experts, who then calculate the Eco Rating scores.
Planet Ark has worked with Vodafone to conduct an in-depth review of the Eco Rating methodology for Australia, and in our view, it is comprehensive, has environmental merit and provides a strong incentive to handset manufacturers to improve the sustainability of their design and manufacturing processes. We have also helped Vodafone produce their educational video explaining how the Eco Rating works.
Helping people make better environmental choices is the cornerstone of what we do at Planet Ark and we believe Vodafone’s Eco Rating makes it easier for people to choose a more sustainable phone. By choosing to purchase mobile phones that have a higher Eco Rating score, consumers can show there is demand for products that have better environmental and ethical performance.
For more information about the Eco Rating, visit www.vodafone.com.au/ecorating.