Fairphone motivates the whole industry to take action on social and environmental issues in the electronics supply chain.
The COVID-19 crisis has made an impact on society and has brought a stronger focus on the aspect of sustainable consumption. Fairphone answers the need for ethical and sustainable products creating positive social and environmental impact from the beginning to the end of a phone’s life cycle.
From the earth to your pocket, a smartphone’s journey is filled with unfair practices. We believe a fairer electronics industry is possible. By making change from the inside, we’re giving a voice to people who care.
Fairphone puts people and planet first. With every phone the company makes, they are getting closer to a fairer and more sustainable electronics industry. From responsible material sourcing to advocating for workers’ welfare, Fairphone sets new standards for the entire industry.
The company is fighting against a market trend where the average phone is replaced every 18 months, creating a substantial environmental impact. As technology advances rapidly, consumers are losing the ability to modify, repair, and truly understand how they can keep their devices longer.
The latest Fairphone 3 is a phone for everyone who cares about how their products are made. It improves the conditions of the people who make it and uses materials that are better for the planet. Because how it’s made matters.
EIT RawMaterials has been supporting Fairphone driving the transition towards a sustainable supply chain of Tin via Start-up and SME Booster Call funding.
The start-up has caught the attention of The Guardian. In the recent interview, Fairphone’s design lead, Miquel Ballester, talks about why an ethical phone is needed, what the firm’s goals are and the progress made over the last seven years.
What is the end goal of Fairphone?
“It wants to transform electronics into an industry where taking care of people and the planet is a natural part of doing business.”
Why is Fairphone needed?
“The constant push for the latest device means that 1.4 bn mobile phones are sold worldwide every year. Most people keep their phones for just 2.7 years and only 20% of those discarded are recycled.
There’s also a human cost. From the mines to the factories, the entire electronics supply chain is tainted by unsafe and inhumane working conditions, from long working hours to even child labour.”
How are you forcing change?
“By creating a smartphone ourselves, we can open up the supply chain, find out where the materials come from and can use commercial strategies to maximise our social impact at every stage.
Four areas in which we are creating change: long-lasting design, fair materials, good working conditions and recycling. In each area, we are pioneering step-by-step change in our products and our own supply chain.”
What is the cost of being fair?
“For companies to be fair, they must truly want to do it. For Fairphone, it is a natural way of doing business. In 2019 a total of 230 workers in our Chinese factory received a bonus of up to €425 (£384) per person – one-and-a-half times the local monthly salary. This type of bonus was a first for our industry.
If this approach were to be scaled up by all brands that partner with the factory, 100% of the factory employees would earn a living wage. But the real effort is making it possible.”
How much progress have you made?
“Almost 8,000 people directly benefited from Fairphone’s social, environmental and economic interventions in 2019.
The number of phones returned for recycling under our takeback scheme has increased by more than 18 percentage points year on year to 23% for 2020 so far.
An average of 45% of our eight focus materials (tin, tungsten, gold, copper, cobalt, neodymium, lithium and plastic) have been sustainably sourced in 2020, compared with 32.75% at the launch of Fairphone 3 and 25.37% for Fairphone 2.”
“In the next five years we will focus on further increasing our presence by shifting to a larger audience and on strengthening our position in the industry, in order to maximise our positive impact throughout the whole value chain. Two of our goals for 2020 are to fairly source 70% of the materials in our device and have 9,000 people who directly benefit from Fairphone’s social, environmental and economic interventions.”
What can individuals do?
“We encourage consumers to keep their phones for as long as possible – the most sustainable phone is the one you already have. The longer you keep your phone, the lower the carbon footprint. But if you are looking to buy a new phone, consider the Fairphone.”
Read the interview with The Guardian here.