Connecting Africa is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 3099067.

Business of Tech

Vodacom goes green with eco rating for handsets

Article Image
As major telcos begin thinking more seriously about sustainability and their environmental impact on the world, South Africa's Vodacom says it has introduced a pan-industry "Eco Rating" for mobile phones across multiple brands.

The Eco Rating initiative has been created jointly by Deutsche Telekom, Orange, Telefónica (operating under the O2 and Movistar brands), Telia Company as well as Vodacom shareholder Vodafone. The group launched the project earlier this year to provide better information at the retail level on the environmental impact of producing, using, transporting and disposing of smartphones and feature phones.

The Eco Rating reflects growing customer demand for more sustainable electronics.

Research from Canada's McMaster University shows that among all ICT devices, smartphones are the most damaging to the environment and although smartphones consume little energy to operate, 85% of their emissions impact comes from production.

Smartphones also have a short life which drives further production of new models and an extraordinary amount of waste said the study's author Lotfi Belkhir.

"At Vodacom, we have always believed that business success should not come at a cost to the planet, and we have made a commitment to halve our environmental impact by 2025," said chief officer of Consumer Business at Vodacom, Jorge Mendes, in a statement.

He said the telco was investing in technology initiatives that can assist in creating a sustainable future while raising awareness of how consumers can help preserve the natural resource base.

"The Eco Rating scheme is one such opportunity to drive transparency for consumers by identifying and comparing mobile devices that reduce negative impacts on our environment today for a better future," he explained.

How it works is a mobile phone device will carry an overall Eco Rating score out of a maximum of 100 to signal the environmental performance of the device across its entire life cycle.

The Eco Rating label will also highlight five key aspects of mobile device sustainability, providing additional information about durability, reparability, recyclability, climate efficiency and resource efficiency.

Around 80 devices have been rated so far, and the total number of devices that receive an Eco Rating is expected to increase every month.

Supporting mobile suppliers include Samsung, Huawei, Xiaomi, ZTE, OPPO, Motorola and Nokia, among others. The one company blatantly missing from the list is Apple.

The Eco Rating methodology

Using information provided by device manufacturers, Eco Rating applies evaluation methodology across 19 different criteria to give each device a score out of 100. In addition, the Eco Rating provides guidance in five key areas:

  1. Durability – The robustness of the device, the battery life and the guarantee period for the device and its components.

  2. Reparability – Covers the ease with which the device can be repaired, including mobile phone design and supporting activities that could increase the useful life of the product by improving its reparability, reusability and upgradability potential. A higher score indicates how these aspects are supported.

  3. Recyclability – How well the device components can be recovered and disassembled, the provided information to allow it, and how well materials can be recycled.

  4. Climate efficiency – The greenhouse gas emissions of the device during its whole lifecycle. The better the score here, the lower the climate impact is.

  5. Resource efficiency – Assesses the impact caused by the amount of scarce raw materials required by the device (e.g., gold for the manufacturing of electronic components) towards the depletion of resources; the better the score here, the lower the impact is towards the availability of materials.

Related posts:

*Top image source: Vodacom.

— Paula Gilbert, Editor, Connecting Africa

Innovation hub


Interview: Juliet Ehimuan on Africa's next wave of innovation

Juliet Ehimuan, founder and CEO of Beyond Limits Africa and ex-MD of Google West Africa, spoke to Connecting Africa about the next wave of innovation in Africa and the continent's digital future.


InDrive enters Zimbabwe's Bulawayo

Ride-sharing platform InDrive is expanding its services to Zimbabwean city of Bulawayo after successfully introducing its services in the capital of Harare in May this year.

More Innovation hub

Latest video

More videos

Industry announcements

More Industry announcements

Sponsored video

More videos

Partner perspectives

All Partner Perspectives

Africa Tech Perspectives


The 100 most influential African leaders in 2023

A new report from Africa Tech Festival and Connecting Africa puts a spotlight on the top 100 African leaders in the telecoms and technology sector in 2023.


Deep dive into East Africa's tech startup ecosystem

New survey reveals a lack of access to investors, reliance on international VCs and global recession trends as the biggest barriers for East African tech startups to access funds.


Challenges and opportunities for women's tech careers

A new survey reveals that COVID-19, the cost-of-living crisis, skills shortages and a lack of mentorship have negatively affected women's career development over the past two years.

More AfricaCom perspectives

Upcoming events

Nextv Series Africa
October 4-5, 2023
Hotel Sky Sandton, Johannesburg
Africa Tech Festival, Home of AfricaCom and AfricaTech
November 13-16, 2023
CTICC, Cape Town
More Upcoming events

Flash poll

All polls

Guest Perspectives


Omdia View: August 2023

By Omdia Analysts

Highlights in August 2023 in the Middle East and Africa included a commercial 5G launch from Ethio Telecom and the signing of a virtual wheeling agreement between Vodacom South Africa and Eskom – that and more in this month's Omdia View.


Omdia View: February 2023

By Omdia Analysts

In February 2023 key events in the Middle East and Africa included a major Internet project for Africa's underserved by Liquid Intelligent Technologies and Microsoft as well as a 5G launch in Tanzania – that and more in this month's Omdia View.

More Guest Perspectives

Like us on Facebook

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign Up
Tag id I-0000192