Vodafone to launch 'more ethical phones'

Vodafone plans to halve its environmental impact. Photo: Dominic Lipinski/PA

Vodafone (VOD.L)will offer more “ethical”, environmentally-friendly phones to UK customers before the end of the year.

On Friday, the company announced a new partnership with start-up business Fairphone, which aims to develop sustainable devices with “minimal environmental impact”.

Vodafone will begin selling the Fairphone 3 smartphone model in the UK, as well as other European markets, such as Germany, Italy, Spain and Ireland, by the end of 2019.

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The Fairphone is a “durable” Android smartphone, based on a modular design, that allows for elements such as the screen, battery and camera to be repaired easily. This helps to extend the life of the device and thus minimises its environmental footprint, Vodafone said.

It “builds on Fairphone’s’ ambitions for fairer, more sustainable electronics with the insights gained from creating its two previous devices”.

Fairphone devices are made from “fairer, recycled and responsibly mined materials” such as Fairtrade gold. The company also “encourages” re-use and repairs of its handsets, offering recycling options, and invests in recycling programmes to buy back e-waste from landfills in Africa for safe recycling in Europe.

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Fairphone is working with suppliers to “establish better working conditions and better worker representation for people employed in the manufacturing industry,” Vodaphone said.

This new partnership “brings together [Vodafone’s] expertise as Europe’s leading and largest converged technology communications company with the recognised expert in sustainable smartphones,” said Ahmed Essam, chief commercial strategy & operations manager at Vodafone.

It comes as part of Vodafone’s effort to halve its environmental impact by 2025. It has committed to halving its carbon footprint, purchasing all electricity from renewable resources, and reusing, reselling or recycling 100% of its network waste.

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Fairphone CEO, Eva Gouwens said: “Fairphone is showing that there is a market for more ethical phones to inspire the rest of the industry to produce more ethically.

“Working with a large operator such as Vodafone helps to bring sustainable electronics to the mainstream market and therefore this is one of the strongest signals we can send to the rest of the industry.”