How Green is your Cellie?

brick guy holding How Green is your Cellie?

UL Environment, a business unit of UL (Underwriters Laboratories),released an initial set of sustainability standards for evaluatingmobile phones this week. It is the first specifically drafted toidentify mobile phones with the least environmental impact.

With the proliferation of wireless telecommunications globally, millions of cell phones are being made–and disposed of–every year, a productlife-cycle that has serious environmental and social implications.

UL Environment is developing the standard (UL ISR 110) for"environmentally preferable" phonesthrough a collaborative process with industry and NGO stakeholders. Itevaluates the materials used to make the phone, the amount of energy itconsumes, whether or not energy consumption can be controlled, thenetwork on which the phone operates, packaging, end of life recyclingoptions and other factors.  

The UL standard establishes a baseline level for environmental designand performance, as well as a tiered approach that rewardsenvironmental leadership. Products that demonstrate exceptionalperformance are recognized with the highest tier of achievement,designated as Platinum Certification.

Third party sustainability standards, such as UL’s, establish the basis fordifferentiating environmentally superior products and services, enablingbusinesses and consumers to make environmentally-preferable choicesmore easily.

"This important milestone provides mobile device manufacturers with areliable and comprehensive model to design better products for themarketplace," says Steve Wenc, president of UL Environment.

UL also announced that Samsung’s newest line of mobile phones, dubbedReplenish, is the to publicly complete the UL Environment pilot programand earn certification–Platinum–under the interim requirements.

UL Environment’s Interim Sustainability Requirements (ISR) relied oninput from a panel of experts. A 60-day open comment period gatheredfeedback on the requirements from a wide range of stakeholders. The next round of standards development will address these comments with thehelp of the Standards Technical Panel (STP), comprised of stakeholderssuch as manufacturers, government entities, non-governmentalorganizations and consumer interest groups. After review by the STP, the standard will then be considered for publication and voted on.

In addition to announcing the new standard, UL is also releasing a white paper called "The Life Cycle of Materials in Mobile Phones." This paper details the variety of chemical elements and engineering materialsoften used to create mobile phones, to help consumers and businessesunderstand how their personal environmental footprints are impacted. The paper highlights the valuable resources found in mobile phones,including precious metals that can and should be recovered at the end of the product’s life. It is available for download below.