There are two developing stories worth noting about the state of initiatives to do the right thing in the mobile space. The first is that the GSM Association or the GSMA has announced that it is working with the Climate Group to find ways that the mobile telecommunications industry can help to reduce waste and cut carbon emissions.
This is of course not a new move. For years I’ve covered recycling efforts, and practically since mobile phones took off in the mid-1990s there have been solid efforts to collect and recycle phones. The problem is that in the past many retailers actually took the phones as trade-ins and offered discounts on new handsets. That doesn’t happen as much, and it isn’t uncommon to go get a new phone and to come home with the old mobile “just in case.”
Thus, it might not be uncommon to have a drawer full of older mobile phones. So we still need to go a step further in recycling. As I’ve reported previously, users should consider donating phones to women’s shelters, churches or other groups that could pass on the phones to those in need.
But the GSMA’s new Green Manifesto is also looking at more pressing environmental concerns as well. According to the group, they have clear goals that include:
Reducing the total global greenhouse gas emissions per connection by 40% by 2020 compared to 2009. The intended result is ‘carbon neutral’ growth; as the number of mobile connections rises, total emissions will remain constant at 245 megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent.
Working with manufacturers to reduce the energy consumed by a typical mobile handset by 40% by 2020.
Working with network equipment vendors to ensure the lifecycle emissions of network equipment components are reduced by 40% by 2020.
We’ll continue to watch these efforts.
Bill Introduced to Curb Conflict Minerals
Last week Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) introduced a bill, co-sponsored by Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Virginia) and Barney Frank (D-Mass.) aimed to curb the trade in minerals from conflict zones. But this isn’t the typical “blood diamonds” or “conflict diamonds.” This is the minerals used in many mobile phones, and the bill would help identify where those materials are sourced, giving companies in the United States two years to implement the requirement. The U.S. Trade Representative would report on the compliance from these companies.
The bill, known as the Conflict Minerals Trade Act, would further require companies to use outside auditors to determine whether refiners are also “conflict free.” The minerals include tin ore (cassiterite), tantalite (coltan), tungsten (a source derived from wolframite), as well as gold. These are all commonly used in mobile phones and laptop computers, among other portable devices and gadgets.
A coalition of international nonprofit organizations (full list available online) also issued a jointed statement regarding this bill:
“We welcome the introduction of the Conflict Minerals Trade Act of 2009 in the United States House of Representatives by Congressman Jim McDermott (D-Washington), with support from Barney Frank (D-Massachusetts) and Frank Wolf (R-Virginia). This bill would help develop the means to ensure that the multimillion dollar trade in minerals from eastern Congo stops financing the world’s deadliest conflict since World War II.”
As with the green efforts, we will continue to watch and report on the Conflict Minerals Trade Act.