AT&T Label Rates Mobile Phones in Stores For Sustainability in Response to Consumers

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By Avery Fellow  

AT&T started labeling mobile phones in its stores July 30 according to a sustainability rating system, the company said.

The telecom company launched the rating system in response to consumer demand, the company said. AT&T developed the system in collaboration with BSR, a nonprofit organization based in San Francisco.

When shopping for products, approximately 60 percent of consumers would consider the environmental impact of a device before making a purchase, all other things being equal, according to a June AT&T survey.

A 2009 Deloitte study found that 54 percent of consumers consider sustainability to be a factor when making a decision on whether to buy a product.

Five-Part Analysis.

The rating system assesses 15 criteria in five categories:

• use of environmentally preferable materials,

• minimization of hazardous substances,

• energy efficiency,

• responsible end-of-life treatment, and

• environmentally responsible manufacturing.

The 15 criteria include the percentage of post-consumer plastic used in the device; restriction of compounds such as lead, cadmium, mercury, nickel and antimony compounds; and product energy efficient features.

The overall rating represents the composite score of these environmental attributes, according to AT&T.

Device manufacturers submit an assessment of which of the 15 criteria the device meets, according to the company. AT&T reviews the report and confirms the data. The company then assigns each phone according to a five-star system, with five stars being the highest.

Phones with ratings listed on the company website include the LG A340, Motorola ATRIX HD, Samsung Galaxy Exhilarate, Samsung Focus Flash, Samsung Galaxy Note, Samsung Galaxy S II, Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket, Samsung Galaxy S III, and the Samsung Rugby Smart. The phone with the lowest listed rating was the LG A340, which received 10 out of 15 points, and the phone with the highest rating was the Samsung Galaxy Exhilirate, which received 14 out of 15 points.

AT&T said it will adapt the rating system over time according to technological changes and industry trends.

Sprint Requires UL Certification.

Sprint started requiring all of its mobile phones to go through the UL Environment certification process in January. UL Environment is a subsidiary of Underwriters Laboratories.

Phone manufacturers and suppliers must ensure that phones supplied to Sprint meet certain criteria related to use of sensitive materials, energy management, manufacturing and operations, health and environmental impact, product performance, packaging, and product stewardship.