|photo credit: LG
Solar-powered mobile phones save on using energy
that produces greenhouse-gas emissions during
its generation. One of the latest models was announced
by LG Electronics, of the Republic of Korea,
on 12 October 2009. The LG GD510, or “Pop”, includes
a solar battery cover. On the phone’s menu
is an “eco-calculator” that can track how much CO2
emission has been saved by using the solar cell. The
phone is made from materials that meet strict international
environmental standards, and the packaging
uses recycled paper.
The introduction of solar-powered mobile phones
began as far back as 1997, when Nokia Corporation,
of Finland, put on sale the “Nokia 1611” with a solar
battery as an optional source of power. But it is
2009 that has seen a significant rise in the number of
players starting to create such products. In February,
another manufacturer from the Republic of Korea
— Samsung Electronics — launched a model called
“Blue Earth”. The phone includes a solar panel and
uses material from recycled plastic bottles. It features
a pedometer, with a program by which users can
calculate the greenhouse-gas emissions they have
saved by walking rather than taking motor transport.
In March, the Japanese operator KDDI made
available the “Solar Phone”, manufactured by Sharp
Electronics, also of Japan. As well as incorporating a
solar battery, the phone is waterproof and includes
features designed for people playing sports.
Simpler, low-cost mobile phones that use solar
power can be invaluable where electricity supplies
are scarce and/or unreliable. In February, Chinese
manufacturer ZTE Corporation announced that it had
developed such a handset, the “Coral-200-Solar”.
Launched in partnership with Caribbean operator,
Digicell, the phone uses proprietary solar-power
technology from Intivation, a company based in the
Netherlands. Safaricom Limited, an operator based
in Kenya, introduced the new ZTE phone in August 2009 — a first for Africa. It has the brand name “Simu
ya Solar” and sells for some KES 3000, equivalent to
about USD 40. As well as helping to close the digital
divide, solar-powered mobile phones are combating
climate change as connectivity spreads.
Orange UK launches recycling scheme
On 4 November 2009, the mobile phone operator
Orange UK launched a new service that encourages
people to recycle old mobile handsets, laptop
computers and personal music players. Under the
“Recycle and Reward” scheme anyone (not just the
company’s subscribers) can take unwanted electronic
equipment to an Orange store and receive cash in return.
For example, depending upon the device’s condition,
up to GBP 85 can be paid for a recycled Nokia
N95 handset, or GBP 95 for a Samsung SCH 900,
according to Orange. Electronic goods that have no
monetary value are also accepted for recycling. The
company estimates that two-thirds of households in
the United Kingdom contain old mobile phones that
are no longer in use, and the new scheme will help to
reduce the amount of electronic goods sent to landfill sites.
Another way in which Orange UK is trying to help
reduce greenhouse-gas emissions is by providing
mini SIM cards for mobile phones. A trial introduction
of the cards began in July 2009 — the first in
Europe by a mobile operator. The mini SIMs halve
the amount of waste associated with providing new
cards, because two (rather than just one) can be embedded
into the piece of plastic in which SIMs are
delivered to the customer.
Trees planted, thanks to Vodafone customers
In the Czech Republic, the mobile phone operator
Vodafone has begun planting trees in the Šumava National Park and the neighbouring protected landscape
of Beskydy, in the South Bohemian region of
the country along the border with Germany and
Austria. A tree is planted for each subscriber who
signs up for Vodafone’s free “On My Own” service
for managing accounts online and from their handsets.
As well as receiving a 20-per-cent discount on
calls, users receive monthly bills electronically rather
than on paper.
Vodafone has promised to plant at least
20 000 trees, which will come from varieties of
beech, maple and spruce that occur naturally in the
locality. In Šumava, the project will help with reforestation
of an area that was damaged recently in a
natural disaster. The Šumava mountain range is covered
by the most extensive forest in Central Europe,
which provides important habitats for rare animals
such as lynx.