ATandT Eco Ratings Offer 5-Star Guidance for Smartphone Buys

AT&T has introduced a five-star Eco-Ratings system based on 15 criteria, which customers can use when shopping for AT&T-branded smartphones. The Galaxy S III, for example, received three out of a possible five stars.

AT&T has introduced a five-star Eco-Rating system for AT&T-branded postpaid devices in its stores, offering customers an additional way to compare devices. This, said the carrier, is what customers want. In a June 2012 survey, the carrier found that 60 percent of respondents said they€™d consider the environmental impact of a device before making a purchase.

Based on 15 criteria from five general categories€”the use of environmentally preferable materials, the minimization of hazardous substances, energy efficiency, responsible end-of-life treatment and environmentally responsible manufacturing€”the phones receive a one-of-five stars rating.

In addition to the branded, postpaid devices, AT&T says it plans to add 13 additional devices from its existing mobile phone portfolio.

Short of going into a store, ratings can be viewed online at AT&T€™s new EcoSpace site.

Samsung€™s Galaxy S III received three stars and a 13/15 rating. Under hazardous substances, for example, it scored a four out of four; under environmentally preferable materials, the smartphone€”which was €œinspired by nature,€ received a one out of three.

The HTC Titan, HTC Status, HTC Inspire 4G, HTC Vivid, LG A340, Pantech Renue, Samsung Galaxy S II and Samsung Rugby Smart also received three out of five stars.

The Motorola Atrix HD, Samsung Focus Flash, Samsung Galaxy Note, Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket and the Sony Xperia ion all received four out of five stars.

The Apple iPhone wasn€™t rated, an AT&T spokesperson explained, because the program extends to only AT&T-branded devices.

The only device currently on the site to receive a five-star rating is the Samsung Exhilarate€”a sort of not very exhilarating midrange smartphone that AT&T began selling June 10 for $50. Still, if environmentally-sensitive phones at a low price are your priorities, it€™s apparently the way to go.

Verdantix, an analyst firm focused on helping clients resolve their environmental challenges, has released a new report on the U.S. telecom market. The firm found AT&T, BT, Orange, Sprint Nextel and Verizon to be positively leading the market. It also found that consumers lack an awareness of the carriers€™ sustainability initiatives.

AT&T, for example€”as it noted in its July 30 press release€”has promoted paperless billing, transitioned to AT&T-branded packaging that uses 30 percent plant-based materials, and has unveiled a new device trade-in recycling program.

Sprint, in a July 26 statement acknowledging the Verdantix report, shared that it is now halfway toward its goal (announced in 2011) of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions metrics by 20 percent by 2017.

€œSprint is the first and, to date, only U.S. telecom company to publicly announce an absolute GHG emission-reduction goal,€ Sprint said in its statement. Its 2011 analysis showed an absolute reduction of 3.5 percent versus 2010, it added, and while its cites total emissions is its primary measurement, for the first time it released emissions-intensity metrics, which found a year-over-year reduction of 31 percent.

The Verdantix study, according to Sprint, additionally found between 13 and 35 percent of respondents to consider sustainability as a primary purchase driver€”ahead of even cost savings, efficiency, productivity and brand enhancement€”and that the top-five cited carriers are part of a movement to integrate sustainability into their corporate structure. Sprint noted that it was also applauded for its carbon-reduction targets, smart meters and remote-monitoring services.

AT&T€™s Eco Ratings became available in stores as of July 30.