T-Mobile Germany is the leading mobile operator in Germany with over 23 million customers. Dr Klaus Rick, Head of Environmental Affairs at T-Mobile, is responsible for the draft of a "3G Greenbook" intended as a shared next-generation sustainability roadmap for the mobile communications industry.
For Nokia, T-Mobile is a major customer with collaboration comprising both network systems and mobile phones.
Reducing Energy Consumption a Priority
Rick says reduction of energy consumption is the most important environmental issue for T-Mobile in both network systems and mobile phones. By improving the energy efficiency of network and terminal equipment, mobile communications can have a favorable impact on the global balance of carbon dioxide emissions. The other major issue concerns the restriction and substitution of hazardous substances.
As energy consumption is also the single largest cost category for network systems, environmental and business considerations pull in the same direction. Cooling of hardware is one critical point. According to Rick, Nokia supplies excellent technical instructions for the use phase of systems equipment but additional information would be useful on such issues as cooling, joining methods and dismantling tools.
Nokia's Design for Environment focus areas for network equipment include modularity, remote control and maintenance. Energy efficiency and increased recyclability are the overarching goals. Rick believes these are important sustainability issues for the whole industry. He says a Design for Recycling guide based on feedback from recyclers would be most useful for system designers. The mounting and joining of hardware has a direct bearing on ease of end-of-life dismantling and recovery of materials.
Further Improvements Are Necessary
Rick stresses that environmental issues pertaining to mobile devices are not a concern for operators only. The drivers are the market and the global carbon dioxide issue. Charger stand-by power consumption is the main energy issue. According to Rick, Nokia has introduced significant improvements, but he believes the chargers could be made even more intelligent, eliminating stand-by energy consumption entirely.
"The total stand-by and charger energy loss amounts to a lot of energy and is an issue for the whole industry," Rick says.
Nokia Is an Innovation Driver
He praises Nokia's packaging solutions and says Nokia phones are well designed for dismantling. He is also confident that Nokia can handle the replacement of lead and other substances due to become restricted.
"I have had the opportunity to learn about Nokia's efforts in audits, discussions and at conferences and can honestly say that Nokia is well ahead of the main stream. Nokia is an innovation driver not only technically but also in environmental quality."