With polar ice caps melting, the earth warming and people having up to five bins for different types of waste, the environment is becoming an increasingly important issue in our lives and something various companies are becoming more aware of and therefore creating specific eco-friendly ‘green’ technology sections. The latest scheme comes off the back of research conducted for the O2 mobile network in which 44% of consumers stated that they would be influenced with regards to their mobile phone choice by the environmental factors that the particular phone affected.
So in answer to this O2 have come up with a new system which they hope will assist their customers in getting the information that they want regarding the new phones on the market at the moment, and thus the O2 ‘eco rating’ system was born which is the UK’s first sustainable rating for mobile phones.
The idea of environmental ratings is nothing new as things like windows and walls already have them, as do cars and appliances like fridges, but up until now mobiles have presumably been considered too small to be of any great importance to the environment, at least by consumers.
But this couldn’t really be further from the truth: there are roughly 4.1 billion mobile phones in circulation in the world at this moment in time with a combined lifetime carbon footprint of 100million tones, which may not mean a lot but it’s the equivalent to taking every vehicle off UK roads for a year and grounding all domestic flights.
And with 1712 mobiles being replaced every minute its quite easy to see how a little difference can go a long way: 0.1g less of a carbon footprint per phone is 0.17kg a min, 10kg an hour, 247 kg a day and just under 90,000kg a year.
The idea of the eco rating is to give consumers a better idea of what effect the different mobiles have on the environment by looking at the whole system lifecycle of the phone (from raw materials through to manufacturing, packaging, longevity, energy efficiency and the possibilities for recycling) and gives them a score from 0 to 5. However, would you give up on getting one of the latest fully featured smartphones such as the HTC Desire of iPhone 4 in favour of getting a more basic mobile phone?
Some manufacturers have previously marketed certain handsets as being a ‘green’ mobile phone, but as it stands there are six manufacturers participating in the scheme — Nokia, Sony Ericsson, HTC, LG, Samsung and Palm — which covers all but 7% of the devices sold by O2 and 65 phones currently have ratings, topped by the new Sony Ericsson Elm which has a score of 4.3/5.
“We know that sustainability is important for many of our customers and for the first time they will have the whole picture from which to make a full and balanced purchasing decision,” said Ronan Dunne, O2’s UK Chief Executive. “Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the social and environmental impact of the technology they buy and we believe this kind of product transparency will help empower them to make greener choices.”
The O2 Eco Rating system really is a good idea and will hopefully help people to make slightly more informed and ethical decisions when choosing a new phone which of course is good for everyone, although it is worth taking these rating with a pinch of salt.
Whilst the idea is sound (and the inclusion of the system lifecycle is very important) there are a few factors that affect the score that are of dubious legitimacy — like phones that include cameras are ranked higher on the basis that you would not need to get a separate camera, which although is true to a degree is very unlikely to be a steadfast rule. Likewise phones with software to plan journeys by public transport or on foot are seen higher despite the fact that presumably they also allow you to plan routes by car…
But maybe this is just me being cynical as generally this is a very good idea, and one that will hopefully catch on not only with manufacturers and distributers but also the general public as we all do our little but to save polar bears. Will this be a good system in your opinion? Will it influence you or make you base your mobile phone buying decisions on it?