16/12/2020

Sustainable Smartphone Companies That Made Our "Nice List" in 2020

At the end of each year, we like to look back at what smartphone manufacturers or recycling companies have done which has had a positive environmental impact, and add them to our “Nice List”, seeing as we’re getting into the swing of the festive period. It’s no secret that smartphone manufacturers are known for being detrimental to the environment, due to the amount of CO2 emissions that they produce from their operations, manufacturing and transport processes of devices, as well as the amount of e-waste that gets dumped around the globe from devices whose parts have not been reused or recycled. Thanks to the work of environmental activists though, smartphone manufacturers are finally starting to be held accountable. The organisations that we’ve put on our “Nice List” this year work within the recycling industry, and are going above what’s expected to minimise the harmful impact of the smartphone industry. Read on to find out more.

Fairphone

Fairphone are always on our list each year, because they make a concerted effort to manufacture smartphones that are sustainable at all stages of the process. Specifically this year though, we were impressed with Fairphone’s research into the tin life cycle.

Historically, Fairphone have worked to understand and improve supply chains for the manufacturing of smartphones. They have continued with this work by commissioning two studies investigating virgin tin mining in the Democratic Republic of Congo and tin recycling in China. In this research, Fairphone aimed to investigate each stage of the life cycle of tin, from mining and smelting to electronics manufacturing and smartphone recycling. The results showed that tin waste collection and recovery during the recycling process was nowhere near at the level of efficiency that it should have been.

Fairphone then identified specific areas for improving the process which include aggregating tin recycling between less recyclers, increased investment into the development of new separation technologies to make it easier to recover an increased amount of tin in the recycling process, and improving the design of smartphone components so that the tin inside is easier to extract and recycle. Fairphone also argued that there needs to be further engagement on a global scale to share best practices for more efficient ways of recycling, as well as facilitating the collection of recycled tin through various recycling programmes.

We’re big supporters of Fairphone’s commitment to improve recycling practices across the board. Once again, Fairphone are doing what other smartphone manufacturers simply aren’t, which is why Fairphone have once again made it to our “Nice List”.

Worthmore

Another organisation that we want to acknowledge for their efforts this year is Worthmore. They’re a Danish organisation that enables their customers to sell their old mobile phones and either receive the money for them, or donate some of the phone’s value to sustainable causes. A couple of the active causes that Worthmore currently supports includes Resea, which is a charitable organisation that retrieves plastic pollution from the ocean and recycles it, and the Danish Nature Fund, which is a fund run by the Danish state that promotes the protection of the beautiful natural environment in Denmark.

As a part of the smartphone recycling industry, we’re very impressed by this company’s offering. Not only do Worthmore incentivise people to recycle their old mobile phones, but they also give them the opportunity to donate to a great environmental cause while doing so.

Closing the Loop

The last organisation that we want to mention is a Dutch company called Closing the Loop (CTL). CTL focuses on the business side of mobile phone recycling by collecting scrap phones on behalf of their customers. How the process works is that companies buy or lease devices, which comprises a small compensation fee to CTL. This fee is later used by CTL to collect and recycle the devices, saving companies from having to organise the phone recycling independently. CTL operates in certain countries around the world which don’t have the waste recycling infrastructure to sustain full-scale recycling programmes, so it’s great to see them in action. We’re impressed by this organisation’s offering of waste neutrality, which is unique within the recycling industry.

We support organisations that demonstrate a commitment to reducing the harmful impact of e-waste globally, which is what we have seen from Fairphone, Worthmore and CTL this year. We look forward to seeing other organisations taking a stand in the future, and looking ahead to what the industry has to offer in 2021.

Read more about the environmental impact of your smartphone here: Are iPhones Bad for the Environment? Environmental Impact of Your Smartphone

Gabrielle

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