Sprint’s new green standard for phones

Adriene Hill Jan 11, 2012

Kai Ryssdal: We expect a lot from our cell phones: we like quick Internet, bright screen, fancy camera and on and on.

But what about good for the environment? Today, Sprint announced all of its phones are going to have to be environmentally certified. Marketplace’s Adriene Hill reports.

Adriene Hill: What do you look for when you buy a new cell phone?

Michael Rodriguez: When I buy a cell phone, I look for design and quality. 

Lisa Richards: Good service. I don’t want any dropped calls. I don’t want to be calling back all the time.

Ben Lopez: I guess affordability and cost.

That was Michael Rodriguez, Lisa Richards and Ben Lopez, out on the street in L.A.

Does it matter if it’s the phone is “green”?

Rodriguez: Yes, it does. I’d rather have a black phone.

Yep, we’ve got a funny guy here.

But, if there isn’t widespread consumer clamoring for green phones, why do it? I turn to Harvard business professor George Serafeim.

George Serafeim: Some people don’t care. But some other people find this appealing, and that can influence their loyalty to the company and their buying and purchasing behavior.

He says as long as Sprint can manage to sell a camera with all the shininess and phone-call-making ability and gadgets we expect at a competitive price, the good-for-the-environment bit is extra credit for the company.

Ram Nidumolu heads the research firm Innovastrat.

Ram Nidumolu: It’s a bonus from the customer side.  But it’s also a bonus internally, it leads to cost savings.

He says those cost savings pop up when companies like Sprint evaluate their supply chain. They spot inefficiencies and prepare for the very unknown future of very unknown future government regulations.

Sprint says it’s also looking to make phones easier to repair and recycle when you’re ready for a new one — in whatever color you want.

I’m Adriene Hill for Marketplace.

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