Earlier on this year, we reported on the news by Greenpeace in which they had declared cell phone company Nokia as the greenest in the world of cellular technology. Apart from feeling relieved that I have only ever used Nokia devices, I did wonder how they managed to land these credentials? How do they green up this technology? To clarify this issue – and to provide a great role model – we are proud to introduce to you today a series of stories in which we share the Nokia green journey in detail with you.
We operate in a world of limited resources and escalating pressure on the natural environment. Many of the substances and materials which go into mobile technologies raise questions about human rights, because they can be hazardous or sourced from conflict areas. Meeting these challenges requires careful management across a supply chain and throughout the product life cycle.
Nokia is an industry leader in substance and materials management. Their main objective is to know all the substances in their products, not just those that raise concerns, and to know they are safe for people and the environment. All the materials in the Nokia products are selected with environment in mind.
All toxic substances are ditched
Meeting health and environmental regulatory requirements is a basic requirement for this company. They use legal compliance not as a mere baseline, but as a starting point from which to grow.
Nokia’s focus is on continuously reducing substances of concern, and exploring and introducing new, environmentally friendly materials. As a result of this effort, all Nokia phones have been free of PVC, mercury, lead and numerous other harmful substances for many years now. 46 new Nokia models introduced in 2010 are also free of brominated and chlorinated compounds and antimony trioxide, and this is something that they’ve done on a voluntary basis.
Environmentally-conscious customers will ask themselves:
- What are the materials used in my phone?
- What’s the energy usage of my phone?
- How much greenhouse gas emissions will be generated during the life cycle of my phone?
Know your phone’s eco profile
Now it’s easy to find answers to these important questions. Nokia provides an ‘eco profile‘ for each of its phones on its website, to make sure you know exactly what the impact of your phone is on the earth.
Let’s say that you own a Nokia E7: you will find out for example that the energy use of your phone is 278 MJ or MegaJoules. This calculation takes into account the raw materials acquisition, component manufacturing, Nokia’s own factory processes, logistics, usage for 3 years and recycling of the phone.
Nokia promotes innovative and sustainable material choices, and work on those in close collaboration with their suppliers. They are also gradually including more and more bio materials in their phones. The Nokia E7 for example, contains bio plastics.
Bio plastics are used in the external phone parts like covers and frame. Containing renewable, organic materials and therefore Bio materials, they provide a sustainable alternative to traditional, crude oil based plastics, reducing the dependency on non-renewable fossil fuels as raw material.
Another example is the Nokia C6-01 which contains recycled metals. Recycled metals can be used both for the external phone parts like covers and frames, and also for internal parts. Recycling provides an efficient way to reduce the need for virgin metals and returns the energy and valuable materials back into circulation.
A small package makes a big difference
Nokia’s packaging materials are selected to offer the best, most beautiful and most protective solution with the least environmental impact. An effective way to reduce the environmental impact of packaging is through making the sales packages smaller, selecting sustainable materials and making sure packaging can be recycled when it’s no longer needed.
The weight and size of packaging affects not only material use, but also the emissions and energy required to transport and store the products. Between 2005 and 2010 they reduced the packaging size of their most affordable devices by over 70%! This amounts to 240,000 tonnes of saved paper.
Smaller and lighter packaging has also reduced transportation needs. In theory, they now only need one third of the number of trucks to transport these products. All their packaging is 100% recyclable.
No conflict metals and minerals
There are typically four to eight supplier layers between Nokia and any mining activities. Despite this complexity, they are actively working on increasing transparency to improve the overall traceability of metals and minerals.
They have banned the use of so-called conflict metals and minerals and take continuous action to ensure that metals from the conflict areas do not end up in their products. Nokia strictly condemns any activities that benefit militant groups or fuel conflict. They are actively working on industry initiatives, such as within the Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI) and the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC ) to improve the traceability of minerals.
In ten years, Nokia have reduced their environmental impact by up to 65%. For example, the environmental impact of the Nokia X2 and similar recently launched devices is just a third of the impact of the Nokia 3310, which was launched a decade ago. They calculate the impact in terms of energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. Their calculations include the entire mobile device life cycle, from raw material acquisition to the end of the product life.
In the coming years, Nokia will continue to focus on continuously reducing substances of concern, and exploring and introducing new, innovative and environmentally friendly materials in their phones.