Our product creation is guided by life cycle thinking. It helps us continuously improve the environmental aspects of our products and processes in each phase of the product life cycle, from raw material acquisition till the end of life of the product.
Over the years, we have been able to reduce the environmental impact of our products significantly. The greenhouse gas footprint of our phones has been reduced by up to 50% between 2000 and 2010, while introducing new features and capabilities that allow our devices to be used in various new ways.
Today, many manufacturers report the environmental footprint of their products. At Nokia we use life cycle assessment (LCA) for calculating the environmental impact of our products and activities. Our calculations include the entire mobile device life cycle, from raw material acquisition to the end of the product life. Our life cycle assessment method has been externally audited. By identifying the largest sources of emissions and energy use over the lifecycle, we have already been able to take action in minimizing the environmental impact of our mobile devices.
At Nokia, we consider the environmental impact beyond just emissions to have a comprehensive understanding of the impact and to be able to drive the development in the right direction. The total emissions for creating, using and recycling a typical Nokia mobile device is on average 18kg C02e. This equates to driving 125 km in a typical car used in Europe.
Greenhouse gas emissions across the life cycle of a Nokia phone
Since June 2010, we have provided an estimated environmental impact for all our new products. This information is available via each product's Eco profile.
The environmental impact of a device varies according to its weight and the functionalities it offers. The mobile phones with just basic functionalities have typically smaller environmental impact than the devices with a wide range of features. However, more capable devices (with, for example, an excellent camera, music player, navigation, web browser and other features) provide you with the opportunity to reduce your personal environmental footprint. Instead of buying, using and charging multiple devices for different purposes, you can have all these functionalities in one Nokia device. Making sustainable choices in your daily life will further reduce your personal footprint: with your Nokia mobile device, it's easy to be green!
How do we calculate this?
The results of a life cycle assessment (LCA) always depend on the calculation method, scope, and assumptions used. Although general LCA standards and also ICT specific documents are available, due to the characteristics of LCA, assessments of different producers are not comparable. We use the ISO 14040 and ISO 14044 standards, complemented by ICT specific ETSI TS 103 199 and ITU-T L.1410, as a framework for our calculations, and they include the entire life cycle, from raw material acquisition onwards. The source data is measured at our own factories and operations and collected from suppliers. In addition, we use internationally available LCI databases.
What do our assessments cover?
In the LCA calculations, we assume 3 years of usage time, including both the impact of charging and "no-load" time (i.e. charger plugged into the mains without a device attached). For the transportation phase, both inbound and outbound logistics are included, as well as transportation to recycling facilities. The recycling phase also contains the pre-treatment of devices. The impact derived from different accessories, packaging, user guides, and Nokia corporate overhead including travel is not included. However, if these were to be added, the greenhouse gas emissions would increase by roughly 20% to a total of some 22kg of CO2e.
The energy consumed by mobile networks and other infrastructure is excluded from the analysis as it forms a complex, separate system of its own and creates various kinds of environmental impact depending on the differences in network configuration and the services available. Modeling of such variables is considered to belong to the LCA of particular telecom operators or service providers.
Changes in Life Cycle Inventory (LCI) databases and impact to our LCA results
Based on life cycle assessments, Nokia has been able to identify component types and processes that are impacting more than others and reduction efforts and monitoring have been set. The results, however, are dependent on the LCI data. In addition to the data measured at our own factories and operations and collected from suppliers, we also use internationally available and acknowledged LCI databases. We are constantly evaluating different methodologies, methods, tools and databases. As the LCA area and also the ICT products and technologies are continuously developing our LCA results represent the understanding at the time when published and are revised if needed.