O2 and Vodafone, working with Forum for the Future, have teamed up to create an industry-wide system of sustainability ratings for mobile devices, according to Mobile News.
Orange has confirmed it will adopt the system next year.
According to Forum for the Future, although some manufacturers and network providers have reported the social and environmental impacts of devices before, the lack of comparability between the approaches prevented consumers from comparing one mobile offering against another.
The new system, titled Eco Rating 2.0, was designed to support comparability. It provides a score from zero to five based on answers from manufacturers to about 100 questions regarding the sustainability of their devices. A rating of five is the highest.
The questions cover information about the lifecycle of devices, responsible design features and manufacturing choices, material composition of the devices, efficiency of their transport, longevity and ways they enable more sustainable lifestyles.
The new ratings will be displayed at the point of sale and as an icon in online stores. The system is free for networks and manufacturers to use, and network operators and manufacturers using the tool are encouraged to contribute to ongoing improvements.
Bill Eyres of O2 said he sees Eco Rating 2.0 as the first step toward an industry standard that should help empower consumers to make more informed and greener choices.
As part of a pilot test last year, O2 found that consumers were willing to take a sustainability step and purchase a mobile phone without a charger, using just a USB-to-micro USB connection lead instead. The company said this shows customers are ready to change their purchasing decisions and urged the rest of the industry to consider joining a campaign to separate chargers from mobile phone purchases.
According to research conducted by Forum for the Future earlier this year, about 70 percent of consumers said they would consider switching brands if one demonstrated better environmental credentials.
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