Sony Ericsson goes green with two new phones

Phone casing made from a minimum of 50 percent recycled plastics

By using electronic manuals, smaller packaging, recycled plastics and a low-power charger Sony Ericsson aims to make its mobile phones more environmentally friendly, it said on Thursday.

Pioneering the push are two new mobile phones: the C901 GreenHeart and the Naite. The C901 GreenHeart phone casing is made from a minimum of 50 percent recycled plastics and is colored with water-based paint. It saves power by using a light sensor to change the brightness of the display according to the surrounding environment.

It also comes with an electronic manual and more compact packaging. Compared to the C902, which was introduced last year, every phone is shipped with 500 grams less paper, according to Mats Pellbäck-Scharp, head of sustainability at Sony Ericsson.

The Naite is also made from recycled plastics, and comes with an electronic manual and more compact packaging. It ships with the EP300 GreenHeart low-power charger, which uses 30 milliwatt. The industry average is 200 milliwatt, according to Sony Ericsson.

The C901 GreenHeart will ship during the second quarter and the Naite during the third quarter. No pricing has been announced.

Next Sony Ericsson will migrate features from the C901 GreenHeart and the Naite into the wider portfolio. First up is using electronic manuals and more compact packaging for most models introduced during the second half of 2009, according to Pellbäck-Scharp.

Using more environmentally friendly packaging could come back and haunt Sony Ericsson, according to Tom Byrd, analyst at CCS Insight. If it doesn't manage to communicate the environmental angle to customers it runs the risk of just looking cheap, he said.

Sony Ericsson is also accelerating its take-back recycling program. The company aims to collect one million phones annually from its own system from 2011 onwards, making it easy for consumers to recycle by providing more locations and information about the process. Currently, it collects about 100,000 phones, according to Pellbäck-Scharp.

Sony Ericsson is far from the only vendor that wants to come off as being the most environmentally friendly mobile provider.

All of the top five vendors -- Nokia, Samsung, LG, Motorola and Sony Ericsson -- have made the strategic decision to go green. The reason is that there is a growing demand for green products among consumers, and being seen as the greenest vendor could give a competitive edge, according to Byrd. However, very few customers would currently pick a greener product over a cheaper one, he said.

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