Apple Declines to Take Part in Eco-Rating for Green Cellphones—Do You Blame Them?

iPhone 4

Today, U.K. network provider O2 launched its Green Ranking scheme for cellphones. The scheme allows British residents, with a little help from Forum for the Future, to see just how eco-friendly their phones are. So, first up, the results: Sony Ericsson and Nokia took the top two spots, with the Elm and the 6700 respectively. Bottom were LG's Etna and the Palm Pre Plus.

But just how useful is this rating? Apple has already counted its iPhone, the most popular smartphone in the British Isles (with 64% market share), out of the scheme, reports The Guardian, although it declined to give a reason why, instead pointing people toward a statement on its environmental footprint. Three years ago, the firm was slammed by Greenpeace for having toxic phones—by that, I mean that the NGO claimed that the iPhone was not particularly environmentally friendly.

And you can see why Apple's come to this decision (apart from the fact that its marvelously arrogant attitude means it refuses to be beholden to anyone else's rules) because O2's eco-rating is a little bit dumb. Can O2 and Forum for the Future honestly say that they have collated all the data from source—for example, the sustainability of the Far Eastern factories that either make components for the cellphones, or put the blasted things together?

How many people are going to choose a phone for its green rating? There are people who want any kind of phone, as long as it's pink, or one that fits into their banana hammock. Maybe they'd just rather stick with their tried-and-tested handset manufacturer.

Fast Company's advice here is to buy the phone you want based on specs—nothing more. If you really feel guilty about taking possession of your Etna (you've got to laugh at the environmental catastrophe of the name there, haven't you?) or your Palm Pre, then take the bus for a week, rather than using the car because, for each mobile phone sold, the impact on the environment is minuscule.

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  • David King-Ruel

    This article severely lacks understanding of systems. Do you know how small the impact of a single human being might be? Close to nothing. Yet, climate is changing, ecosystems are changing, biodiversity is declining, and so on. Why do you think that is?

    Do you mean it is a waste of time to give information about environmental aspects of what we buy, therefore creating the possibility of a more responsible consumption (therefore creating incentives for companies to design their phone better)? Why should I not care about this "small" impact of my phone, just as this "small" impact of my plastic bag.

    Phone should target longer life cycles, recyclability, upgradability and so on...A ranking system is a way to create incentives for innovation.