Five of Europe’s leading mobile operators have joined forces to update and launch a new pan-industry Eco Rating labelling scheme that will help consumers identify and compare the most sustainable mobile phones and encourage suppliers to reduce the environmental impact of their devices.
The Eco Rating initiative has been created jointly by Deutsche Telekom, Orange, Telefónica (operating under the O2 and Movistar brands), Telia Company and Vodafone to provide consistent, accurate information at retail on the environmental impact of producing, using, transporting and disposing of smartphones and feature phones. Eco Rating will enable operators and their customers to encourage wider rating of phones and demonstrate the demand for more sustainable electronics.
A range of new consumer phones from 12 mobile phone brands will be assessed by the Eco Rating initiative, with others expected to be announced in the future. Launch partners include Bullitt Group – Home of CAT and Motorola rugged phones, Doro, HMD Global – Home of Nokia Phones, Huawei, MobiWire, Motorola / Lenovo, OnePlus, OPPO, Samsung Electronics, TCL / Alcatel, Xiaomi and ZTE.
Starting from June 2021, the mobile operators will begin to introduce the distinct Eco Rating labelling at point of sale across 24 countries1 in Europe where they are present.
Following a detailed assessment, each mobile phone handset will be given an overall Eco Rating score out of a maximum of 100 to signal the environmental performance of the device across its entire life cycle. The Eco Rating label will also highlight five key aspects of mobile device sustainability, providing additional information about durability, repairability, recyclability, climate efficiency and resource efficiency.
The Chief Executives of the five mobile operators – Tim Höttges (Deutsche Telekom), Stéphane Richard (Orange), José María Álvarez-Pallete (Telefónica), Allison Kirkby (Telia Company) and Nick Read (Vodafone Group) – together welcomed the launch of the Eco Rating Initiative:
“Building a more sustainable future is our joint responsibility, so we believe the time is right to drive a harmonised, industry-wide Eco Rating Scheme that will improve transparency and help raise awareness of the environmental impact of the phones that our customers choose.
“We look forward to welcoming more manufacturers and telecoms operators to the Eco Rating initiative in the future, and we hope it will inspire the whole industry to accelerate its transition towards a more circular model for mobile phones.”
Using information provided by device manufacturers, Eco Rating applies a consistent evaluation methodology equally and objectively across 19 different criteria, culminating in a single score for each device. In addition, the Eco Rating provides guidance in five key areas:
Durability – The robustness of the device, the battery life and the guarantee period for the device and its components.
Repairability: Covers the ease with which the device can be repaired, including mobile phone design and supporting activities that could increase the useful life of the product by improving its reparability, reusability and upgradability potential. A higher the score indicates how these aspects are supported.
Recyclability – How well the device components can be recovered and disassembled, the provided information to allow it, and how well materials can be recycled.
Climate efficiency – The greenhouse gas emissions of the device during its whole lifecycle. The better the score here, the lower the climate impact is.
Resource efficiency: Assesses the impact caused by the amount of scarce raw materials required by the device (e.g. gold for the manufacturing of electronic components) towards the resources depletion; the better the score here, the lower the impact is towards the availability of materials.
The Eco Rating methodology builds on industry knowledge and best practice gathered through previous environmental labelling initiatives. It has been developed with technical support and supervision from IHOBE (a publicly-owned agency specialized in Economic Development, Sustainability and the Environment), with the participation of device suppliers, using the latest standards and guidelines from the European Union, ITU-T, ETSI and ISO with new parameters introduced where appropriate