Major manufacturers commit to greening products

Following pilot projects sponsored by the European Commission two continental manufacturing giants have agreed to keep up the good work.

Finnish phone colossus Nokia and French hypermarket chain Carrefour have both voluntarily committed to find new ways to reduce the environmental impacts of some of their products.

Nokia says it will make its phones more energy efficient, increase consumer awareness of recycling and reduce the amount of hazardous materials used in the manufacture of its products, completely doing away with gender-bending flame retardants and phthalates, for example.

Carrefour, for its part, is also making small steps and plans to reduce the impact of tropical wooden garden furniture through design changes which would reduce the amount of materials needed. It will also ensure the wood it does use comes from certified sustainable sources.

The original pilot projects have highlighted the environmental benefits of using the so-called ‘life cycle approach’ that is central to the Commission’s Integrated Product Policy (IPP) and its recent Thematic Strategies on natural resources and waste management.

The life cycle approach involves taking account of the environmental impacts at each stage of a product’s life – from when the raw materials and energy that go into making it are extracted from the earth, right through to when the product and its components are recycled or disposed of at the end of their life.

Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas told the press he hoped other companies would take note and follow the example of their peers.

“Looked at globally, the production and consumption of products have a huge impact on our environment through the use of resources, energy and transport and the creation of waste,” he said.

“These pilot projects have successfully demonstrated how Integrated Product Policy can reduce this impact. I applaud the leadership shown by Nokia and Carrefour and warmly welcome the commitments made by the participating companies. I urge others to take similar action to green their products. ”

Veli Sundbäck, executive vice-president of corporate relations and responsibility at Nokia, said: “Mobile communication brings benefits to societies and our environment through efficiency, but we also want our products to become increasingly green.

“This is a responsibility for the entire mobile sector. Nokia proposed this pilot to the Commission to bring the industry and environmental organisations together to develop new ideas and commit to action..”

Carrefour’s Roland Vaxelaire, director for responsibility, quality and risk management, added: “We were pleased to share our considerable experience of integrating environmental and social considerations into our sourcing of tropical wood garden furniture.

“Carrefour strongly supports the demand by more than 70 companies for legislation to ban the import of illegally-sourced timber and wood products into the European market.”

Sam Bond

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