Together we can enable a more sustainable future for the mobile industry
By Alex Froment-Curtil, Vodafone Group Chief Commercial Officer
Vodafone believes that urgent and sustained action is required to address the climate emergency. Business success should not come at a cost to the environment, and we are strongly committed to ensuring the greening of all our activities.
This includes using natural resources more efficiently and striving to build a circular economy across our entire industry. But we can’t do this alone – the industry itself shares joint responsibility for building a more sustainable future.
That’s why Vodafone, in partnership with four other mobile operators, believes that the time is right to launch a pan-industry scheme to improve sustainability in the mobile phone supply chain. Along with Deutsche Telekom, Orange, Telefónica and Telia Company, we’ve launched the Eco Rating labelling initiative to provide consistent, accurate information on the environmental impact of producing, using, transporting and disposing of smartphones and feature phones.
The scheme will roll out from today across 24 countries in Europe, including 11 where Vodafone is present, and will be initially visible on our retail websites when customers choose a phone handset.
The Eco Rating culminates in a score out of a maximum of 100, signalling the environmental performance of the device across its entire life cycle – from extraction of raw materials, through its entire use to recycling or disposal at end of life.
There’s a detailed assessment behind each rating, but the key is that it’s consistently applied for every phone across 19 different criteria. In addition, the label gives consumers additional guidance on five key aspects of mobile device sustainability, including durability, repairability, recyclability, climate efficiency and resource efficiency.
Phones from twelve suppliers will be rated at launch, and we’re working on announcing more in the future. The Eco Rating initiative is open to all telecoms operators and suppliers, and together we can inspire the whole mobile industry to accelerate its transition towards a more circular model for mobile phones.
Vodafone continues to focus on reducing ‘electronic waste’, and we are making progress against our target to reuse, resell or recycle 100% of our network waste by 2025.
We believe it’s important to extend the lifespan of the devices that we buy. Most of our markets operate trade-in and device buyback schemes, plus repair services to encourage our customers to repair or return their old devices.
To encourage greater trade in rates, Vodafone UK has already launched a phone trade-in tool accessible via the MyVodafone app which assesses device eligibility and provides a guaranteed trade-in price.
We also strive to refurbish and reuse fixed-line equipment multiple times, delivering significant environment and cost savings.
As with the Eco Rating initiative, it is industry action collectively that will drive circulatory for devices. Vodafone recently joined the Circular Electronics Partnership, bringing together leaders across the value chain – including manufacturing, reverse logistics, material recovery and e-waste management – to drive circularity solutions for electronics.
Vodafone also supports broader societal change to more circular economy models. Digital and connected solutions play an important role in reducing resource use and improving reuse and recycling, including material tracing or shifting from product-based business models to service-based ones.