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Mobile Phones

Marketplace Overview

Though small in size and relatively short-lived, cell phones, smart phones, and other mobile electronic devices can have an enormous environmental impact. With an average lifespan of less than 18 months per device, consumers dispose of more than 350,000 mobile phones every day. In 2009 alone, Americans discarded 129 million of them; that’s four times more than any other type of electronic product on the market.

Mobile phones contain a number of precious metals, including gold, copper, and zinc, which require significant amounts of energy to both mine from the earth and process for manufacturing. They also contain toxic heavy metals, including mercury, lead, and cadmium, which—when improperly discarded—can leach into groundwater or pollute the air in the form of vapor.

Competitive Advantage

UL Environment helps make it easier to find and choose greener mobile phones. Standards like UL ISR 110 (Sustainability for Mobile Phones) are based on the environmental and human health aspects of a mobile phone’s entire lifecycle. This way, manufacturers, retailers, and purchasers looking for environmentally-preferable mobile devices have an easy way to identify them.

The UL Environment certification marks indicate transparency and trustworthiness, ensuring that products have been rigorously evaluated through a consensus-based, third-party process. UL Environment’s mobile phone certification enables manufacturers to demonstrate that their products are environmentally superior, while giving customers the clarity to make informed and confident purchases.

Standard Overview 

The UL ISR 110 standard provides manufacturers with a way to showcase environmental leadership and product stewardship in an increasingly competitive hi-tech industry. It ensures that mobile devices:

  • contain environmentally preferable materials;
  • are manufactured using environmentally and socially responsible practices;
  • are recyclable at end-of-life;
  • make use of recycled and recyclable packaging;
  • have minimal environmental impact;
  • have minimal human health risks;
  • perform efficiently; and
  • demonstrate innovation in sustainable manufacturing.

UL ISR 110 is a multi-attribute standard, which awards points for the following criteria:

Requirement Category Points 
Materials 15 
Manufacturing and Operations 18 
Health and Environment 27 
Packaging 13 
Energy Use 24 
EOL Management & Life Extension 12 

To achieve certification, a mobile phone must earn at least 60 of the available points (score of 55%). Devices earning 80 points (score of 73%) or more are eligible to receive platinum level certification.