Talking green, at a price

16 October 2009

Approximately 7% of mobile phone users in North America would be willing to pay a premium for an environmentally-friendly handset
Approximately 7% of mobile phone users in North America would be willing to pay a premium for an environmentally-friendly handset

Results from a recent ABI Research survey of 1000 adult mobile phone users in North America reveal that approximately 7% would be willing to pay a premium for an environmentally-friendly handset.

A further 40% state that they would choose a green handset over a conventional one, if price, features, and performance were equal.

“These survey results mean that almost half of those surveyed were at least committed in principle to use of a green handset,” comments industry analyst Michael Morgan. “However, the public is largely uninformed about their availability: only 4% said they were ‘very familiar’ with green handsets.”

Although it seems that the ‘equal in price’ condition is not necessarily a deal-breaker. Some recyclable components may be slightly more expensive, but the vendors have in most cases offered handsets with comparable functionality while keeping costs down. Generally the price differential between green and non-green models is not remarkable.

But the cost to handset manufacturers can be. Creating a verifiably green handset can mean revamping the whole supply chain and re-tooling the production process. Watchdog groups such as Greenpeace are on the alert for so-called ‘greenwashing.’ “There’s an avalanche of information to be managed, just to prove that you’re green,” adds Morgan.

However, says Morgan, “There’s a difference between being merely compliant and being truly green. The three key factors are: using recyclable or renewable materials; ensuring that handsets are in fact recycled after use; and introducing low-power chargers. Even more crucial for the long-term is leveraging the lessons learned in this process and applying them right through entire handset portfolios.” As these lessons are applied, ABI Research believes that the percentage of properly recycled handsets will grow from 8% in 2009 to 17% in 2014.


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