As part of its goals toward sustainability, mobile phone giant Ericsson aims for a 40 percent reduction in carbon emissions, per subscriber, by 2013. The company just released its 2008 CSR report (PDF).
Annual CO2 emissions for subscribers on GSM networks have fallen from 90 kilograms in 1992 to 20 kg in 2008. For 3G users, CO2 emissions have fallen from 55 kg in 2001 to 25 kg in 2008.
Ericsson hopes to cut its carbon footprint by 10 percent in 2009, through improved practices in product transport, facilities and business travel.
A big part of Ericsson’s plans come from a project to review the life-cycle impacts of its products. This includes impacts from raw material extraction, manufacture, transport, use, disassembly and end-of-life treatment. The company’s model projects the life-cycle impact over a 15 year period.
In 2008, Ericsson performed life-cycle impacts on its mobile and fixed broadband networks, as well as new Sony Ericsson mobile phones. The study found that total average annual carbon emissions, per fixed broadband subscriber, are about 500 kg, including operation and manufacture of PCs and data centers. The portion of this that Ericsson has major influence over amounts to about 100 kg. Ericsson says it plans to see how it can reduce this figure.
Ericsson says its most significant carbon impact is in the area of freight, which saw 2008 emissions of 370,000 tons of CO2, compared to 420,000 tons in 2007.
The company increasingly is shifting from air freight to surface freight. In 2008 the amount of freight sent by surface rose from 39 percent to 43 percent. The target for 2009 is 60 percent.
Ericsson says its most significant source of indirect carbon emissions is when its products are in use. Because the company is producing more units, its lifetime CO2 emissions from radio base stations and other products rose to 24 Mtons, up from 22 Mtons in 2007.
To address this, Ericsson is trying to make its products more energy efficient.
The GSMA and 17 leading mobile operators and manufacturers, including Ericsson, have committed to implementing a Universal Charging Solution that uses Micro-USB for new mobile phones. The UCS solution is expected to roll out in worldwide markets by 2012.
Last October, Ericsson unveiled its latest radio base station site concept; a wind-powered Tower Tube. The company worked with Vertical Wind AB and Uppsala University in Sweden to take its original Tower Tube concept one step further by employing renewable energy.
The Ericsson Tower Tube construction houses base stations and antennas in a concrete tower. The company estimates the Ericsson Tower Tube will reduce 30 percent CO2 emissions from its materials, production and transportation, compared with traditional steel towers.