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Sony Ericsson Satio Has “Half The iPhone’s Carbon Footprint”

Peter Judge has been involved with tech B2B publishing in the UK for many years, working at Ziff-Davis, ZDNet, IDG and Reed. His main interests are networking security, mobility and cloud

Green consumers may want to know – but Sony Ericsson isn’t planning to market the Satio as a green phone

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Sony Ericsson has said that the Satio smartphone, launched last week, has just over half the carbon footprint of Apple’s iPhone – but won’t be using this juicy fact in its marketing.

The Satio produces around 30kg of CO2 in its lifecycle, according to Sony Ericsson, which has promised to “green” all its phones with the “Greenheart” initiative, launched last year. By comparison, Apple claims its iPhone 3G has a lifecycle carbon footprint of 55kg (PDF).

The main reduction in the Satio’s environmental cost is in the packaging, which makes up a very large part of the carbon footprint of any electronic device – as other issues have been addressed by the industry. The phone has no CD or manual, and comes in a smaller cardboard box, which reduces the printing costs and the transport costs in moving them around. The biggest change in the footprint is to ship the manual pre-installed on the phone itself, instead of as a paper book, which users rarely read.

“All our phones will now have e-manuals,” said Mats Pellbäck Scharp, head of Sony Ericsson’s corporate sustainability office speaking at the launch of Sony Ericsson’s avowedly green C901 phone. This is currently the easiest way to make a phone greener, because other initiatives have already reduced other factors. The power demanded by charging, which used to be the major factor, has been reduced by cutting standby power, and 60 percent of the manufacturing costs are in the memory and processor, which cannot easily be cut.

However, Sony Ericsson apparently does not intend to capitalise on Satio’s green credentials: “We are not in the game of shouting that our phone is more green than yours,” said Fortuné Alexander, the company’s “director of daily life tool and style”. He warned that the carbon footprints may not be directly comparable – as he does not know what Apple includes in the iPhone calculation – but he is confident that Sony Ericsson’s figures are sound, and probably more rigorous than Apple’s: “We are more comprehensive, and I expect the iPhone’s carbon footprint would be higher measured by our model.”

Put in context, the lifecycle cost of an iPhone is roughly equivalent of driving 110 miles (at 500g of CO2 per mile), and that of a Satio would be about 60miles. A phone is not the largest part of any consumer’s footprint.