'Green' Carrier ATandT Announces New Packaging Requirements

AT&T has announced new packaging requirements of its phone manufacturers. Slimmer boxes, recyclable materials, more efficient chargers and an avoidance of materials from conflict zones will all result, AT&T hopes, in some dollars and environmental good sense.

AT&T, which Juniper Research named the top "green" U.S. carrier in 2009, is living up to its Earth-friendly reputation. On March 4, the carrier announced that it's requiring slimmer packaging, and less of it, from its mobile handset partners.
By improving the packaging of device chargers, cases, batteries and data cables, AT&T hopes to eliminate 200 tons of plastic and paper waste, freeing up 1,100 cubic yards of landfill space-a mass it helpfully eyeballs as being the equivalent of nearly 10 school buses.
"These improvements are sound business decisions, but more importantly, they significantly reduce the impact of this packaging on the environment," Jeff Bradley, senior vice president of devices, said in a statement. "This is a small but meaningful next step that AT&T decided to take, and we are pleased to deliver new packaging alternatives that are recycled, can be recycled and generate less waste."
Manufacturers are expected to start getting on board with the requirements this year-though the slackers and foot-draggers (no kidding around now, guys, we mean it!) are expected to finally come around by the end of 2011.
The requirements include: reducing packaging and using non-petroleum-based inks and recycled materials for in-box materials; that 75 percent of the devices be at least 65 percent recyclable; that the majority of new devices comply with the energy-efficient GSMA Universal Charging Solution; that all new devices comply with the European Union's Restriction of Hazardous Substances mandate; and that suppliers "assert" that they have "avoided" virgin materials mined from conflict zones with the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
(Coltan, an ore, is apparently used in many electronics and is abundant in the Congo.)
"This is the beginning of an ongoing collaboration with our suppliers, and we'll explore together more ways to soften our impact on the environment," Bradley said.
Nokia has been an early proponent of minimizing packaging, eliminating toxic materials and boosting charger and device efficiency, and over the years has shown such moves to indeed be good business, as AT&T device providers are likely to discover.
For example, by minimizing the packaging of its handsets between 2006 and 2008, Nokia reports that it reduced the use of paper-based materials by almost 100,000 tons, which resulted in a savings of 474 million Euros, or approximately $645 million. Further, because the boxes were smaller, more could fit on each truck for transport, enabling Nokia to eliminate the use of more than 12,000 trucks.
The United Nations, noting that e-waste is most inclined to pose a hazard to developing nations, released a Feb. 22 report, encouraging nations to bring new urgency to addressing the problem.