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Sustainability Faceoff: Verizon vs. Sprint

There are some practical concerns in the battle between Sprint and Verizon–phone selection makes a big difference. But there are also a number of sustainability concerns to take into account, as explained in “The HIP Investor,” by R. Paul Herman.

verizon vs. sprint faceoff

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There are some practical concerns in the battle between Sprint and Verizon–phone selection, for example, makes a big difference. But there are also a number of sustainability concerns to take into account, as explained in The HIP Investor, by R. Paul Herman.

Sprint has received significantly more attention for its sustainability initiatives, mostly because they have been flashier. The Samsung Reclaim, for example, was Sprint’s first “green” phone, featuring recycled plastic, soy-based ink in its user manual, and a box made out of recycled paper. A successor to the Reclaim, dubbed the Restore, will be released this summer. But green phones like the Reclaim and the Restore are little more than gimmicks until they become more desirable than heavy hitters like the Droid and iPhone.

Sprint does make it easy for customers to recycle, however, with prepaid envelopes available at all stores for customers to send back phones, batteries, and accessories. By 2017, Sprint hopes to achieve a wireless device collection rate of 90% as compared to device sales. The company also was ranked highest in corporate environmental and sustainability reporting among U.S. telecom carriers in a 2009 report from the Roberts Environmental Center. In an interview with Herman, Sprint VP of Corporate Responsibility Ralph Reid explained, “We want to dispel the myth that sustainability
increases cost. A lot of what we have done has not increased our cost, as a matter of fact it reduced it.”

Verizon has done just as much as Sprint to green its business practices. The company is adding 1,600 alternative energy vehicles to its fleet in 2010, cut CO2 emissions by more than 793 million pounds in 2009, and became the first telecom company to establish efficiency standards in 2008. Verizon is also working on sustainability requirements for its suppliers. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg, according to Jim Gowen, Chief Sustainability Officer and VP of Operations. “We say do what you say 100% and only talk about
10%. We are doing so much more than what I am sharing right now, so that our story can be out there and be respected,” he explained in an interview with Herman.

It’s hard to say who wins in the battle of the cell phone carriers, but we have to side with Verizon–if for no other reason than that the company can make a bigger impact since it has more than twice as many customers as Sprint.

Excerpted from The HIP Investor: Make Bigger Profits by Building a Better World by R. Paul Herman Copyright (c) Published by John Wiley & Sons. Used with permission.

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About the author

Ariel Schwartz is a Senior Editor at Co.Exist. She has contributed to SF Weekly, Popular Science, Inhabitat, Greenbiz, NBC Bay Area, GOOD Magazine and more

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