Vodafone hit go yesterday on New Zealand’s first sustainability ranking scheme for mobile phones, an eco-rating displayed on the packaging of new handsets in Vodafone stores and online.
Using information directly from handset manufacturers, scores range from one to five, where five is the most sustainable.
The new Nokia Lumia 800 rated 3.4 on the scale, while the Samsung Galaxy SII only managed a 2.8.
The iPhone page, however, does not display an eco-rating; Vodafone told the NBR one particular handset manufacturer had opted not to take part in the rating system.
The rating accounts for both environmental impacts – like carbon emissions and how much water is used in manufacturing – and ethical factors, such as labour policies and health and safety practices for people assembling the phones. Scores are higher for mobile phones that contain fewer hazardous materials, are easy to recycle, have a longer battery life and follow high standards of manufacturing health and safety.
Handset manufacturers are assessed based on their answers to more than 200 questions about the environmental and ethical impact of each mobile phone, divided into three areas:
Green design: scores are higher for mobile phones that have special energy saving modes and smart charging systems, or handsets made with recycled plastics and metals.·
Mobile phone lifecycle: scores are higher for mobiles that have a smaller impact on the environment over their lifetime, from extraction of raw materials to production, transport, use and disposal.
Company performance: questions focus on the company’s management standards, policies and procedures in operations and supply chains – points are awarded for practices that go beyond legal requirements and Vodafone’s ethical standards for suppliers.
Rachel Brown, chief executive of the Sustainable Business Network (SBN), welcomes the introduction of the system, said Vodafone had "cracked it" with the eco-rating system.
"It’s really simple to understand – you can see at a glance how sustainable a particular mobile is," she said.
“What also appeals to us is that eco-rating sheds more light on the performance of mobile phone suppliers and their products. We’ll be able to give feedback or encouragement to the sector as a whole to continue to work towards a more sustainable industry.”
Abbie Reynolds, Vodafone’s corporate responsibility manager, said the mobile phone industry was developing at a lightning pace and the company was always learning.
Rating scores are calculated independently by Bureau Veritas and SKM Enviros and the scoring methodology verified by KPMG.