Fair-Trade Phones?

Mar 14 2013 @ 6:42pm

Ben Schiller highlights an effort to make one:

Controversy has dogged the phone supply chain recently. Apple has been criticized for troubles at Foxconn, its enormous Chinese supplier. Campaigners like Global Witness and the Enough Project have shed light on African mines that fund warlords, and employ child labor (see also here). And, there are continuing stories about how e-waste recycling puts distant workers at risk, and pollutes the environment.

[Designer Bas Van Abel] thinks there’s demand out there for something different. Later this year, his company will start selling a phone that looks and acts much like other products–but comes with greater safeguards. FairPhone, which is a social enterprise that recycles profit for social ends, is sourcing minerals through nonprofit initiatives like the Conflict Free Tin Initiative and Solutions For Hope. It is choosing factories in China that meet high standards set by Labor Voices, an advocacy group. And it’s working with recycling groups, such as Closing The Loop. It wants to build a phone that fits “circular economy” principles, where valuable materials are easily extracted after-use, and repurposed.