Sprint Launches Green Initiatives, Adds Phone Made Partly From Corn

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Sprint’s Samsung-made corn phone, the Reclaim

Overland Park, Kan. - Sprint launched new environmental initiatives that include eco-friendly design criteria for future phones and store designs, dedicated in-store displays of environment-friendly products, and the first cellphone whose outer casing is made partly of bio-plastic material.

The material, which makes up 40 percent of the phone's outer shell, is made from corn, presumably grown in the carrier's home state.

The phone, Samsung's $50 Reclaim, is not the first phone touted as green, but it is the first QWERTY-keyboard messaging phone so promoted. Earlier this year, T-Mobile launched Motorola's W233 Renew, whose housing is made from recycled plastic water bottles. And Verizon Wireless launched the Nokia 7205 Intrigue with several green features, including a built-in reminder to unplug the low-power-consumption charger when the phone is fully charged. The device's packaging is made from 100 percent recyclable materials.

Reclaim, which features slide-out QWERTY keyboard, is promoted as Sprint's most full-featured QWERTY phone at less than $50. Available in green or blue, the phone features email, GPS navigation, 2-megapixel camera, stereo Bluetooth, memory card slot and integrated Web browser.

Sprint is also promoting the phone's lack of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and phthalates and near lack of brominated flame retardants (BFR); outer packaging and in-box phone tray made from 70 percent recycled materials, with images and text printed with soy-based ink; lack of a paper user manual, replaced by virtual user manual accessible at www.sprint.com/reclaimsupport; and an Energy Star-approved charger, which meets the highest energy-efficiency standards set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It's also is equipped with a visible notification to alert users to unplug the handset after charging.

The device will be available on Aug. 16 in all Sprint retail channels, including Best Buy, RadioShack, www.sprint.com and telesales at $49.99 with two-year agreement after $30 instant rebate and $50 mail-in rebate. Walmart will offer it in September.

Sprint will donate $2 of the purchase price to The Nature Conservancy's Adopt an Acre land-conservation program.

Sprint's other newly announced environmental initiatives include:

  • becoming the first U.S. wireless carrier to establish environmental design criteria for future devices and accessories.
  • a commitment to reduce paper usage by 30 percent during the next five years.
  • a "sustainable-design blueprint" for all newly built and refurbished Sprint-owned stores. They'll get energy-efficient lighting, low water usage plumbing fixtures, and low-pollutant paint and carpet. The upgrades will "reduce the carbon footprint of each store by about 19,000 pounds of carbon dioxide equivalents," the company said.
  • dedicated display areas in Sprint-owned stores to promote eco-friendly products and accessories. The carrier claims to offer more eco-friendly accessories than any other U.S.carrier, including the Solio Mono solar-powered charger and two new cellphone carrying cases made from 100 percent recycled plastic water bottles.

For future devices sold through Sprint channels, the carrier will work with suppliers to implement the carrier's environmental design criteria. The criteria include reduced use of potentially hazardous materials, higher energy efficiency, feature standardized audio and charging interfaces, are more recyclable, and use more sustainable packaging including standardized sizes, reduced weight, increased recyclability rate, and increased recycled content.

Sprint said it also will work with its suppliers to measure and report on the environmental impact of their manufacturing processes.

In burnishing its green credential, Sprint also said it has an aggressive industry-first goal of reaching a 90 percent phone collection rate for reuse/recycling compared with annual wireless device sales by 2017. Since 2001, Sprint said its wireless recycling programs have diverted more than 17 million cellphones from landfills for reuse or recycling. Sprint's current collection rate is almost 35 percent.

Sprint has committed to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 15 percent by 2017 and to increase its use of renewable energy to 10 percent by 2017. Wind power provides about 80 percent of the energy needed to run Sprint's Overland Park corporate headquarters.

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