There is no way to judge the impact that your smartphone has on the environment as there is no unifying or international rating or certification currently awarded for it. Though a smartphone doesn’t cost much to keep charged; questions like how much energy went into its creation, was it made from recycled materials, and what happens to it once it is no longer fit for purpose or until a better model comes along, are left unanswered.
A ranking of smartphone brands released in November 2012, according to Greenpeace’s latest Guide to Greener Electronics, states which tech companies create environment-friendly phones. The ranking is done in terms of sustainability, greenhouse gas emissions, recycling and use of precious earth minerals, as well as on issues such as a product’s energy efficiency.
And the rankings are
1) Nokia: Ranked as the world’s greenest phonemaker by Greenpeace and as the 14th greenest company anywhere in the world by Newsweek, Nokia recently hit its target for 40 per cent renewable energy and also scores highly for its commitment to sustainability. Its latest handsets all use recycled plastics in their manufacture.
2) Apple: Apple has some of the industry’s most robust policies regarding the use of conflict minerals. Its smartphones are some of the most energy-efficient on the market and it was one of the first tech companies to produce polyvinyl chloride plastic (PVC) and brominated frame retardant (BFR) free products.
3) Samsung: The South Korean company wins praise for its approach to product lifecycle, helping consumers hold on to their existing devices for as long as possible. The company is also completely open about not only its own greenhouse emissions, but those of its supply chain partners.
4) Sony: Sony already uses 8,500 tonnes of post-consumer recycled plastics a year in its products and has phased out the use of PVC. It has also committed to a 5 per cent drop in the use of virgin oil-based plastics by 2015. Sony also scores well for the energy efficiency of its products.
5) Lenovo: Lenovo has invested heavily in the use of recycled plastics and at the time of the last Greenpeace report — published in November 2012 — it was in the process of setting ambitious targets for cutting its greenhouse gas emissions. Whether it remains on track will be revealed in May, when the latest edition of the
pressure group’s bi-annual report is published.
6) LG: According to Greenpeace, all LG mobile phones are free of PVC, BFRs, phthalates, antimony trioxide and beryllium oxide. The company scores highly for its commitment to sustainability, which includes a phone buyback system in 52 countries for obsolete devices.
7) BlackBerry: Over the last year, the company, formerly known as RIM, has made significant progress to improve the energy efficiency of both its devices and their chargers. All of its smartphones are free of brominated and chlorinate substances. The company also surveys its own suppliers on their sourcing of conflict minerals.