Samsung is the first to achieve the new international smartphone certification, which rates the devices on environmental design and socially responsible manufacturing.
Its flagship Galaxy S4 smartphone received certification from TCO Development, which launched the rating system last month.
Its also the top-rated smartphone by Consumer Reports. Samsung is the largest manufacturer of smartphones worldwide.
“The demand for environmentally friendly products informed our decision making process when we were creating the GALAXY S4,” says JK Shin, CEO of IT & Mobile Communications for Samsung. “This is the second significant certificate the GALAXY S4 has received since its release as we were also awarded Platinum ECOLOGO certification from UL.”
The goal of TCO Certified Smartphones is to place higher sustainability demands on smartphones and make it easier for smartphone buyers to choose sustainably designed devices. Big corporate and public sector buyers that have sustainable procurement objectives rely on these certifications.
Sweden-based TCO has been certifying IT products for more than 20 years, and added smartphones to the list in April. Smartphones are evaluated using life cycle analysis, with requirements for Compliance with all criteria is verified by an independent, accredited third party.
The explosive growth in smartphone purchases – expected to sell a billion next year – brings sustainability challenges such as hazardous substances, a rapid replacement rate, e-waste and sub-standard working conditions in factories.
Examples of criteria include manufacturer commitment to international labor conventions, reduction of hazardous substances such as heavy metals, beryllium, nickel and phthalates, as well as energy efficiency and ergonomic design.
Much of the criteria is the same for any IT product, but some are specific to smartphones, including:
- All surfaces that come into human contact must be nickel-free
- It must come with a headset – for user comfort and safety from electromagnetic radiation
- Minimization of phthalate content – a human health and environmental risk
- Free from beryllium – a category 1 carcinogen
- Batteries must not contain lead, cadmium and mercury, and must be easily replaceable to prolong the life of the smartphone.
Samsung has also developed an “upgradable TV” and has also been buying wind farms in Ontario, where it will have four manufacturing plants.