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Cell Phone Makers to Drop Plastic Inserts

AT&T, Nokia, Motorola, Samsung, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon are among members of wireless communications industry body CTIA committing to package sustainability goals that include eliminating plastic inserts and trays from postpaid wireless device packaging by the end of 2013.

Other goals set out by CTIA’s Green Working Group include labelling all US postpaid wireless packaging with internationally recognized symbols to facilitate the recycling of products, and using less than 10 percent volatile organic compounds. Members are targeting these goals for the end of 2013.

The final two goals are to use only water-based adhesives or self-sealing tab locking boxes by June 2014, and printing all postpaid packaging material, including user guides, with non-petroleum based inks by the end of 2014.

Other companies committing to the goals include Asurion, Brightpoint, Brightstar Corp, HTC America and U.S. Cellular. Additional companies have indicated they will participate, CTIA says.

The Green Working Group is also developing three programs to encourage more recycling of old devices and accessories. The industry is to develop a take-back program for devices and accessories and to educate consumers about this programs; use third-party recyclers that comply with applicable federal and state electronic recycling laws; and develop a common approach for measuring handset collection rates, with a goal of increasing the collection of devices and electronic accessories either directly or indirectly by 20 percent by 2015.
In July, AT&T launched its eco-ratings system in stores, allowing customers to compare cell phones’ environmental impacts. The rating system – which was developed in collaboration with sustainable business strategists BSR – rates mobile devices on 15 specific criteria in five categories: hazardous substances, environmentally preferable materials, product energy efficiency, end of life take-back and environmentally responsible manufacturing. Device manufacturers submit an assessment specifying which of the 15 criteria, such as the percentage of post-consumer plastic used in the device, or restrictions on lead, cadmium, mercury and nickel, their devices meet. AT&T reviews this report and confirms the data reported.
Also in July, AT&T and Sprint topped telecom sustainability metrics. AT&T lead the US sustainable telecoms market in customer offerings and Sprint in corporate sustainability performance, according to the study from independent analyst firm Verdantix.
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