AT&T Named Most Sustainable US Carrier


An ABI Research report has named AT&T the top “green” US carrier, followed closely by Sprint Nextel

The growth of environmentally sustainable, or “green,” mobile handsets is primarily being driven by consumer demand, states a 17 Sept report from Juniper Research, which suggests global shipments could rise to 485 million units by 2014.

Even with incremental shifts in attitude from consumers, states the research firm, green handsets are expected to climb from 2009’s 250,000 global shipments to at least 105 million units by 2014.

“With manufacturers only now beginning to introduce green handsets, shipment volumes are relatively low in all cases. Moving forward, we should not expect to see production lines of completely ‘green’ phones, but a gradual move to introducing green elements through devices,” said Dr. Windsor Holden, a principal analyst with Juniper Research.

Juniper defines a green handset as being constructed of at least 50 percent recyclable or renewable materials, and being free from harmful substances, including those restricted under RoHS, such as brominated and chlorinated flame retardants, beryllium and phthalate, says John Levett, with Juniper’s marketing and business development team.

“In terms of green handsets currently in the market, we would cite, for example, the Samsung Reclaim and the Sony Ericsson 901 Greenheart,” Levett told eWEEK.

Juniper reports that the average mobile user is responsible for approximately 25kg of carbon dioxide emissions per year — totaling 93 megatons at the end of 2008 — and that efforts such as the Kyoto Protocol are requiring companies to reduce their average emissions over the next five years.

Mobile carriers are taking note, led by AT&T Wireless, according to ABI Research, which on 16 Sept. named AT&T the “top new North American green carrier,” according to its Green Carrier Matrix. The Matrix ranks carriers on their clean technology and environmentally friendly initiatives, primarily focused around infrastructure, equipment, handsets and handset recycling.

“AT&T leads the matrix as the greenest operator in North America, followed closely by Sprint Nextel,” said Aditya Kaul, an ABI Research senior analyst.

“AT&T take a slight lead over Sprint partly due to its focus on green innovation and [research and development]. AT&T has already implemented programs and defined goals in the green network infrastructure area [and] defined new metrics to measure carbon reduction. Sprint, however, gets special credit in the areas of green handsets, handset recycling, green buildings and green IT.”

On 29 June, manufacturers Apple, LG, Motorola, NEC, Nokia, Qualcomm and Research In Motion, Sony Ericsson and Texas Instruments signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the European Commission stating that in early in 2010 they would standardize on their device chargers. Chargers will be inexpensive and not come free with a new phone as they always have — encouraging consumers to instead use the charger they already have.

Other recent pro-environment steps by phone manufacturers have included using recyclable packaging materials (as HP has also done with several of its new PCs) and reducing the size of packaging. Nokia has reduced the size of the boxes its phones come, which means more can fit on a truck, which means fewer trucks on the road. Kirsi Sormunen, Nokia’s vice president of environmental affairs, told eWEEK in May that this has enabled Nokia to take at least 12,000 flatbed trucks off the road, and led to a savings of nearly 500 million Euros.

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