Korean phone makers rank among greenest

LG and Samsung are two of the top five greenest mobile makers, according to a new report which noted that worldwide phone recycling efforts are still lacking.

Korean phone makers LG and Samsung have managed to rank among the top five greenest handset makers surveyed by IDC. However, the analyst firm said the mobile phone industry still has a long way to go.

In a Thursday report, IDC ranked--in alphabetical order--Apple, LG, Nokia, Samsung, and Sony Ericsson as the top five phone makers in terms of the companies' sustainability policies and practices.

The results were judged based on five criteria--packaging, materials, energy, end-of-life program, and overall sustainability efforts--and 20 sub-criteria, said IDC.

However, mobile phone recycling is "amazingly low today", said IDC, noting that a recycling rate of 10 percent is considered good.

"Given the ubiquity of mobile phones around the globe, it is critical for manufacturers...to demonstrate their corporate responsibility," said IDC, adding that this can be achieved through greener phones that simplify disposal and the reusing of phone parts.

IDC noted that Nokia is the leader when it comes to reusing recycled materials. The Finnish phone maker was also praised for its green materials as 65 to 80 percent of its device can be recycled, while the rest which are primarily plastic can be used to fuel recycling processes.

LG's power management functions were acknowledged by IDC, which added that the Korean company has developed a solar charger that it plans to include in its entire range of products.

With regard to Samsung, IDC said the firm "scored well" in the reduction of hazardous materials as all its new models were free of brominated flame retardants (BFR) by Jul. 1 last year. The electronics company also plans to make its mobile phones free of phthalates, beryllium, brominated compounds, and antimony trioxide by Dec. 21, 2010, said IDC.

Also in the top five charts was Sony Ericsson, which has optimized its packaging to be more environmentally-friendly. The phone company recycles its mailers and has developed lighter boxes that help to reduce carbon emission in transport by 80 percent compared with standard boxes.

Interestingly, Research In Motion, which managed to make it to the top five phone makers chart, was not in IDC's top five greenest list. The rest of the gang--Nokia, Samsung, LG, and Sony Ericsson--are in.

Apple snagged a spot in IDC's list as the Cupertino giant has recycling services in 95 percent of the countries it sells its products in, said the analyst firm.

"Apple has been a leader in influencing its supply chain and has taken strong steps as a key advocate for others to develop green technologies," said IDC in its press release.

The firm noted that Apple's green efforts extend to its executive level, led by Apple CEO Steve Jobs who is "very active" in the company's green programs.