by Karen Coppock
Handset manufacturers have multiple incentives to remove used handsets from the marketplace - keep environmentalists happy while decreasing a formidable threat to first-time handset purchases (used phones)
Environmentalists vocally encourage the reuse and responsible recycling of mobile phones. In the summer of 2006, Greenpeace began rating the environmental policies of mobile phone and personal computer manufacturers. The Greenpeace ratings are based on the amount of hazardous substances used in the product and the company’s take back and recycling program. None of the top five handset manufacturers – Nokia, Motorola, Sony Ericsson, LG and Samsung – analyzed by Greenpeace received the highest “green rating,” and many were penalized in their rating due to the lack of disclosure or progress on voluntary take back and recycling programs.
Mobile handset manufacturers may want to consider implementing more aggressive take back programs in emerging markets as an environmentally friendly mechanism for decreasing the amount of used handsets in circulation in these high-growth countries. By decreasing the availability of used handsets in these markets, manufacturers could minimize a significant competitor to the low-end models they are increasingly launching in these markets. Mobile handset manufacturers may even want to evaluate the feasibility of offering "certified used handsets" that they have cleaned, tested and updated potentially capitalizing on the used handset phenomena themselves while being good, and clean, corporate citizens.