Fairphone 2 was launched at the end of 2015 as the second implementation of the successful Fairphone, which was the first ever ‘ethical smartphone’ to be produced back in 2013. One of the many advantages of the Fairphone 2 is that it is a step in the right direction for reducing e-waste. Even with the Waste Electrical and Elelctronic Equipment Directive in place – the WEEE Regulations – there is still a growing problem worldwide with electronic waste.
The Fairphone is produced by an Amsterdam-based social enterprise and its production is also improving the working conditions for the people working on manufacturing it in China, which is good news for a company suffering serious health and environmental impacts because of it’s willingness to import much of the world’s electronic waste to dispose of in huge landfill sites.
Yet another advantage of the Fairphone that enables it to be described as an ethical smartphone is that it does not use any materials in its production that have come from conflict mines.
60,000 people that bought the original phone so what’s new in the second version?
The Fairphone 2 aims to change the consumers “throwaway” attitude to electronic gadgets, which is contributing to the growing e-waste mountain. It has done this by being designed in such a way that it is easy to repair – a simple matter that could have a huge impact. Organisations of all sizes from small new business startups where staff use their smartphone simply to update their calendar or business blog to well-established organisations could benefit from taking an early stance in an environmentally approach to e-waste – educate employees on the benefits and save money too.
The phone can be opened easily, unlike many of its more well-known competitors, and it is built in a way that makes it easy to repair with spare parts readily available from fairphone.com. This easily-repairable design should encourage consumers to change their attitude towards a broken phone and make their first reaction one to try and have the problem fixed instead of assuming the only solution is to discard the old device and replace it with a new one. The Fairphone 2 is a step in the right direction towards a circular economy instead of the “take, make, use, dispose” attitude of our current linear economy.
The phone is also designed to avoid common problems that make people need to replace their phone. For instance the back cover is shatterproof and wraps around the edges of the screen so the likelihood of it breaking if dropped is minimised. Fewer broken phones means fewer phones thrown away which means a reduction in electronic waste. It really could be that simple for all of us.
For every phone that is sold a contribution is made to a welfare fund for the Chinese factory workers aimed at improving their welfare.
The company that make the Fairphone 2 work closely with their suppliers to ensure metals and minerals used in its manufacture are from conflict-free mines. They ensure that every raw material can be traced back to its source and that the source is ethical. Of course a more complete way to establish a circular economy and still further reduce the amount of e-waste we all produce would be to re-use the metals and materials from old, discarded phones in the production of new phones, which would have the added benefit of also reducing energy consumption in the manufacturing process.