The Ethical Smartphone

The people behind Fairphone started by designing a phone made from conflict-free minerals, which provided fair wages to workers and offered supply chain transparency. They created the Fairphone 1, which met these objectives with a mobile phone that was modular, meaning that it could be taken apart into functional units, such as the screen, battery, processor, speakers and camera. Any of these components could be replaced if broken or to be upgraded. It was an instant success, selling more than 100,000 phones. They have now completely redesigned the phone and are launching Fairphone 2 which is designed to last five years, with improved specs and increased ease of modular upgrading.

The possibilities smartphones give us to share information, solve problems together, and create shared value can actually be a driver to make people relate to the geology of our digital systems.

Bas van AbelFounder and CEO, Fairphone

Fairphone is not only about their product. The social enterprise makes their production systems and processes transparent in order to address problems with suppliers, helping to achieve sustainability and fair work practices throughout their supply chains. By establishing a market for ethical products, Fairphone wants to motivate the entire industry to act more responsibly and eventually create a fairer economy.

Why you should care

Driving sustainability through the supply chain of mobile phones – on a social and environmental level – is at the core of what Fairphone does as a social enterprise. The company aims for systemic change, focusing on the full lifespan of a smartphone – from responsible mining to long life through modular upgrading to eventual safe disposal. In the face of fast production and consumption in the mainstream phone industry, addressing all these challenges is important.

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