Race to Produce Green Mobile Phones

Samsung unveiled Blue Earth, an eco-consciously created handset with a rear-mounted solar panel last month in Barcelona at Mobile World Congress 2009.

According to the company, by charging with the solar panel Blue Earth users can generate enough power to call anytime anywhere. Rounder and a bit thicker than the average mobile phone, the touch screen handset is made from recycled materials and designed to look like a flat shiny pebble.

The Blue Earth case is made entirely from recycled plastic water bottles and
castor beans; the packaging is 100 percent recyclable and uses soy-based inks. Samsung has a take-back program for recycling old phones and is not new to eco-phone technology.

Samsung E200 body is made from bio-plastic, naturally extracted from corn. Two tons of CO2 emissions are saved each time one ton of E200 cases are produced from bio-plastic rather than oil-based plastic.

Blue Earth comes with a charger that draws minimal power and which, Samsung promises is free from Brominated Flame Retardants (BFRs) and other harmful substances. Another cool feature is the integrated pedometer built into the phone that tells you how many trees you’ve saved by walking to work rather than driving in a car.

There is also an energy saving “eco-mode” that optimizes Bluetooth, screen brightness and backlight duration. Blue Earth will be available later this year.

Just days after Samsung unveiled its solar-powered handset Korean rival LG came up with a somewhat less green look alike. The LG version has a solar panel built on its battery cover and according to LG, a ten-minute exposure to direct sunlight can power the device for a three-minute call.

Expected to be available before the end of 2009, the yet unnamed handset will not be made from recycled materials, however LG will use green packaging and print user manuals with soy ink on recycled paper.

Motorola’s Renew W233 handset is described as the “world’s first carbon neutral mobile phone.” The company has purchased enough offsets to make the manufacturing process of the Renew W233 carbon neutral. This model is made from recycled plastic and Motorola claims that 20 percent less energy is needed to produce the phone compared to the standard plastic process.

Although the renew W233 is not solar-powered, the packaging is eco-friendly and brochures are printed using vegetable-based inks on 100 percent post-consumer recycled paper. Motorola extends the conservation theme to the phone’s performance with up to nine hours of talk time, which means that users can talk more, charge less and reduce energy usage.

Sony Ericsson recently announced its GreenHeart concept phone with biodegradable housing, paperless electronic manuals, recycled plastic keypads, eco-friendly packaging, and a zero-waste charger.

Nokia’s senior manager for environmental affairs, Johanna Jokinen says that Nokia is pushing to make its entire product line more eco- friendly.

More than 80 percent of all its phones ship with power-saving chargers and the company uses 100 percent recycled materials and complies with European restrictions on the use of flame-retardants and other toxic chemicals. Nokia also offers drop off points for old Nokia phones in more than 85 countries, as well as mail in options.

Jokinen said, “Merely by reducing the amount of packaging it ships with each phone, Nokia has taken more than 12,000 trucks off the road since 2006, saving some 474 million Euros for the company.”

By Marie Oser

Marie is a launching a new product line: Marie Oser’s Lean & Green and will be sampling several varieties of her Lean & Green Biscotti, which are Vegan, Fair Trade and Handmade in the USA with organic ingredients.

Marie Oser is an ecomii blogger and feature writer.

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  1. Hi Shane,

    I think this is a step in the right direction. I am always suspicious when companies purchase carbon offsets since there is no standard regarding exactly what this means. Caron offset trading has incredible potential for fraud and abuse but companies are not likely to worry much when purchasing them since they make good marketing material.

    I have long been a proponent of reduced packaging which so often seems unnecessary. It seems like such a no brainer since it also reduces shipping cost adding to the bottom line.

    Great work.


  2. Hi Roger, I really tihnk that these days companies are starting to realize the potential for cost savings in going Green. 20 years ago businesses were all about promoting Green for marketing but now I think it is starting to become an important part of doing business.

    First business wanted to not harm the environment, then they moved to reduce costs and improve their reputation through trying to push environmental initiatives.

    Now, companies are realizing that environmental thinking can improve the bottom line through innovation, new markets and new business opportunities.

    There are many businesses that are quietly working to lessen the impact of their industry on the environment. Many of these companies like Dow, are not always ready to spew their green for fear of getting dragged through the coals b/c they are not totally closing the loop.


"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Mead