CTIA, the international association for the wireless telecommunications industry, has announced sustainability initiatives from its Green Working Group covering handset packaging and the recycling of old devices and accessories.
The Working Group has developed five benchmarks for handset packaging:
- Participating wireless companies will eliminate plastic inserts from postpaid wireless device packaging by the end of 2013.
- By December 31, 2013, all US postpaid wireless packaging will be labelled with internationally recognised symbols to facilitate recycling of products and packaging.
- The postpaid packaging will use less than 10% volatile organic compounds by the end of 2013.
- Water-based adhesives or self-sealing tab locking boxes will be used by June 2014.
- All postpaid packaging material, including the user guides, will be printed with non-petroleum based inks by the end of 2014.
Companies participating in the packaging benchmarks include AT&T; HTC America; Motorola Mobility; Nokia; Samsung Telecommunications America; Sprint Nextel; T-Mobile USA; Verizon Wireless and others.
The CTIA Green Working Group has also developed a three pronged approached to encourage more recycling of devices and accessories:
- Develop a take-back programme for devices and accessories and educate consumers about these programmes.
- Use third party recyclers that comply with applicable federal and state electronic recycling laws.
- Develop a common approach for measuring handset collection rates with a goal of increasing collection by 20% by 2015.
Review: The CTIA says its an international organisation, but it’s based in Washington and the companies taking part in these initiatives seem to be all US-based. Certainly much of the targets of these initiatives – recycling and more environmentally friendly packaging – are becoming accepted practice or enshrined in Product Stewardship and other legislation around the world.
There have already been various initiatives to help ‘Green’ the mobile industry; the EU has been working on a universal mobile phone charger; the ITU has conducted a Green ICT Application Challenge; and O2 has introduced a eco mobile phone rating in the UK. There’s much more that I haven’t reported.
But a lot needs to be done. With mobile handset shipments of over 2.15 billion expected by by 2016 (Portio Research) and with phones being replaced on average every two years in Europe at the moment, there’s a huge amount of potential environmental impact from the manufacture, delivery and use of these devices.