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ITU announces eco-rating system for mobile devices

The International Telecommunication Union [ITU] is proposing the introduction of a ratings system that will make it easier for consumers to choose devices that don’t damage the environment.

Members of the ITU met at the Green Standards Week in Geneva and drew up proposals for the new initiative involving manufacturers, operators and industry partners.

“Consumers are increasingly looking to make sustainable purchasing decisions. A key problem has been a bewildering array of eco-rating schemes. I applaud this initiative that will drive green innovation and allow us all to make informed decisions when we purchase mobile devices,” said Dr Hamadoun I. Touré, secretary-general of ITU.

A number of phone manufacturers have already signed up to work with the ITU’s Standardisation Sector including Alcatel-Lucent, Apple, BlackBerry, Fujitsu, Huawei, Motorola, Nokia and Samsung.

Network providers involved with the scheme include AT&T, Orange, KPN, Telefónica and Vodafone with GSMA confirmed as one of the industry partners that have signed up to the scheme.

Some of the criteria being discussed for the eco-rating scheme include carbon footprint, battery life, the use of certain chemicals and rare metals, packaging, and recyclability.

Simplifying the current system is at the heart of the plans and is something that network provider Telefónica is particularly pleased about.

“Telefónica uses environmental criteria including energy consumption, CO2 emissions and recyclability to evaluate and select devices, but we have found great difficulty with the absence of a common methodology for each manufacturer to report details on their devices. There is clearly a strong need for a common framework to enable industrial implementation,” said Francisco Montalvo, global director of devices, Telefónica.

The Green Standards Week also looked a number of other areas with experts attempting to work out a definition for a “smart sustainable city” and how to improve e-waste statistics and coordination.