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ULE Dialing Up New Cell Phone Sustainability Standard

There are more than 4.6 billion cell phones in the world, but no consistent way to compare the environmental impacts of different brands and models.

A new project by UL Environment hopes to change that by creating sustainability standards for handheld consumer electronics.

UL Environment, the environmental evaluation arm of safety certifier Underwriters Laboratories, is starting with a mobile phone standard. The standards will take into account the entire life cycle of products, from raw material extraction to disposal. It will include energy efficiency, recycled content, packaging and other environmental information.

Some companies have created their own guidelines for designing and labeling cell phones with lower impacts, such as Sony Ericsson's GreenHeart line, but there is no industry-wide method for determining the sustainability of phones.

The standard development process will include input from UL Environment's Standard Technical Panels, made up of stakeholders like manufacturers, governments, non-governmental organizations and consumer groups. An initial draft is expected by the end of the year.

Like Underwriters Laboratories' work with developing standards for safety, UL Environment's focus is standards and certification related to energy efficiency, sustainability and environmental claims. Earlier this month, UL Environment released a draft of its first sustainability standard for manufacturing organizations, developed in partnership with

Cell phones - CC license by Flickr user compujeramey

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