Mobile networks and phone makers are pushing towards making it easier for consumers and business phone buyers to understand how their device impacts the environment.
Information including battery life, chemical and rare metal usage, packaging and ease of recycling would be combined to create a simple rating system. The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) – which is part of the UN – will work with device manufacturers including Apple, BlackBerry, Huawei, Nokia and Samsung and major mobile networks including Vodafone, Orange and Telefónica on the concept of a standard rating system.
Francisco Montalvo, Telefónica's global director of devices, said the scheme could benefit the way his firm markets handsets. "Telefónica uses environmental criteria including energy consumption, CO2 emissions and recyclability to evaluate and select devices, but we have found great difficulty with the absence of a common methodology for each manufacturer to report details on their devices," he said. "There is clearly a strong need for a common framework to enable industrial implementation."
The system, when in place, would be recognised internationally. ITU secretary general Hamadoun Touré said he believes that the scheme will help customers make an informed choice. "Consumers are increasingly looking to make sustainable purchasing decisions. A key problem has been a bewildering array of eco-rating schemes. I applaud this initiative that will drive green innovation and allow us all to make informed decisions when we purchase mobile devices," he said.
The ITU is also pushing towards a standard phone charger, which is currently used by the vast majority of phone makers with the notable exception of Apple, which has long used its own, proprietary connectors.
Last week, an EU committee voted unanimously that mobile phone makers operating in member states should make use of the charger. The new standard is said to have the potential to save up to 82,000 tonnes of electrical waste each year.
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