If you haven’t heard the news about Eco Etsy partnering with Sprint, you must have been away from the internet – perhaps too busy rescuing our planet? I thought so.
But if you heard, that means you also heard about Sprint’s eco-friendly phone, Samsung Replenishâ„¢.Â (I’ll hold off the adjectives until I tell you the facts.)
As the Captain of Eco Etsy, I had the pleasure of holding one of the first twenty – first twenty!!! - Replenishâ„¢ phones that rolled off the factory in my little hands for a review.Â You know, I just had to see how our logo looked on its GreenID Pack screen in person. So when Sprint offered to send me one to review, I jumped at the chance. No, I couldn’t keep it. I had to be nice and return it so that others can review it before its sale date, May 8th.
And even before I held this shiny little dah~lingÂ of a phone (Ooops. I am really trying not to use adjectives.) in my hand, I knew some details about the phone. Dan Hesse, Sprint CEO, said when he unveiled Sprint’s GreenID pack on April 15th, â€œSamsung Replenish is as green as we could make it with more than 80 percent recyclable materials, housed in partially recycled plastics, energy efficient and built with fewer environmentally sensitive materials.â€ His statement basically sums up what this phone is all about. But I did some research and from what I can find, this phone IS, one of the, if not THE latest and the greenest mobile phones on the market. I mean, I knew he was right but you know I had to check it out for myself. (Sorry, Mr. Hesse.)
Now, I won’t bore you with all the technical specs because you can easily get all the fun facts from their website. But the part I was interested in the most was how eco-friendly this phone truly is. The Replenishâ„¢ is Samsung’s first Android-powered eco-friendly phone and it boasts the following eco-features.
The Replenishâ„¢ Eco-Features:
- Reduced environmentally sensitive materials (RoHS compliant6, free of intentionally added polyvinyl chloride (PVC), brominated flame retardants (BFRs), phthalates and beryllium)
- Energy efficient, with a charger that meets the EC Code of Conduct on Energy Efficiency of External Power Supplies, Version 4, as well as a visual alert for full charge
- Separate solar charger available for purchase
- Casing includes 34.6 percent post-consumer recycled plastic content (the highest level in our eco-portfolio) and 82 percent of the device is made from recyclable materials
- Fully recyclable packaging that incorporates 80 percent post-consumer waste material and uses soy inks
- Includes a postage-paid envelope to recycle your old phone and promotes a virtual user guide available on the Sprint website â€“ www.sprint.com
But what do they really mean? Normally, RoHS, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), brominated flame retardants (BFRs), phthalates and beryllium are used in making cell phones, as well as other metals and plastics. So if cell phones are thrown in the trash and sent to incinerators or landfills, environmental contamination can occur from combustion or sitting in landfills. And what makes it worse is that life cycle of a cell phone is a mere 18 month. Imagine how much toxins you’d help to create if you just toss your old phone and buy a new one. So the fact that Replenishâ„¢ uses less of these toxic materials, it is already ahead of the curve.
Wait. There is more.
Fifty eight percent of cell phones is made with plastic. But to lessen the usage of petroleum derived, non-biodegradable plastic, the Replenishâ„¢ is made with 34.6 percent post-consumer recycled plastic and 82 percent of the phone is made with recyclable materials. So even if you did throw it away, parts of the plastic is recycled plastic and majority of the phone is recyclable. I’m impressed.
Not only that, the packaging is made with post-consumer waste material and soy inks for printing the packaging. Yes, they are that serious about the environment.
Now, as far as energy use goes, the charger meets the EC Code of Conduct on Energy Efficiency of External Power Supplies and it has visual alert system to let you know that it’s fully charged so you can unplug the charger when you are done. Not only that, you can buy a solar charger too. I’d buy that without hesitation.
Oh, and I almost forgot, you can actually mail your old phone to them for them to recycle. (More on how they recycle later)
OK. Those are the facts about the phone. Let’s move onto facts about Sprint because this phone review would not be complete without mentioning Sprint’s sustainability programs and how it affects the Replenishâ„¢.
The Replenishâ„¢ is made by Samsung and meets Sprint’s eco-criteria for device makers.
What does that mean?
Sprint recognized that there is no industry standard for grading eco-friendliness of devices so it created a standard that vendors have to meet in order to be graded as eco-friendly devices. You can find the standards here but the standard is a point system that grades different aspects of greenliness such as reduction of environmentally sensitive materials (RoHS Compliance, low levels of PVC, BFRs, Phthalates, Beryllium), energy managment, lifecycle management, sustainability packaging, eco-friendly applications and innovation.
No wonder Sprint has chosen this phone to pre-load its GreenID Pack! It meets these guidelines. Actually, this phone is Sprint’s fourth eco-friendly phone. I don’t think other carriers have that many eco-friendly phones.
What else does Sprint do that makes it one of the greenest companies?
According to Sprint’s Corporate Responsibility department, Sprint’s sustainability mission follows through on these efforts:
Sprint places a high priority on reuse. Reuse conserves more energy and raw materials than recycling, as it reduces the need to manufacture new phones.
- Saves 40 million kilowatt hours of electricity â€“ enough to power more than 3,000 U.S. households for one year.
- Reduces demand for primary materials by 77 metric tons â€“ the weight of nearly 600 refrigerators.
- Reduces demand for potentially toxic materials by 1.5 metric tons â€“ the weight of more than 700 bricks.
Sprint responsibly recycles what remains after a device travels through our reuse system:
- Sprint and our vendors adhere to a Zer0 e-Waste policy â€“ no dumping, landfilling or waste incineration of equipment
- Recycling is conducted only at ISO-140001 certified facilities in OECD (developed) countries, and in accordance with all applicable federal, state and local regulations.
- No prison labor is used in our recycling processes.
- Our vendors are contractually obligated to follow our recycling policies and are regularly audited by Sprint to confirm compliance.
“New Life” for Recycled Materials
Base materials recovered through Sprint’s recycling processes are used in the manufacture of a wide variety of new products, including:
- Plastics separated from non-plastic equipment parts are ground and mixed with plastic resins to make new products including lawn furniture, license plate frames, non-food containers, and replacement automotive parts.
- Precious metals recovered from cell phones and accessories (e.g., gold, silver, platinum, copper, brass and other metals) are used to produce jewelry, electronics, plumbing, and catalysts among other things.
- Waste from the metal refining process is used in the asphalt industry as a component of road beds and roof shingles.
- Rechargeable batteries are reconditioned to create new rechargeable battery products, or recycled to recover metals that make new products such as solder and stainless steel goods.
- Paper is captured and transformed into a component of fiber board products.
Now I see why Sprint was votes as one of the greenest telecom companies that ranked at No. 6 as America’s Greenest Companies by Newsweek in 2010.
So, what do I think about the Replenishâ„¢?
I am a lot like you. I sometimes think technological advancement affects the environment so much that I wonder how much are we willing to sacrifice for our convenience. But much to our surprise, technology can actually help us to green our lives. I receive more e-mails from environmental organizations to sign petitions than from shopping sites —> this is using technology. I read numerous green blogs on the internet —> this is using technology. I can tweet about an environmental cause or a call for action —> also using technology.
And now, technology is allowing us to be educated about the environment via apps like “GreenID Pack” on Android devices, the Replenishâ„¢. NY Times recently published an article about apps and kids and it mentioned the “GreenID Pack” as one of the life enhancing apps. So although we can resist technology for the environment sake, it can actually help to educate us and the future generation on how to live more eco-friendly lives.
So without a doubt, if I have to buy a new cell phone because my current one broke or I had to change my calling plan to Sprint, the Replenishâ„¢ would be the phone of my choice. Hands down. And that’s not just because of the pre-loaded GreenID pack or because it has Eco Etsy as one of the icons on its “Green Shop” screen. OK, I lied. That has a little to do with it.
But seriously, this. is. an. awesome. phone. It’s light (it weighs about 4oz.). It comes in three colors – black, blue, and pink (coming in June). It even has a little phone charm holder tab. And of course it has the usual features like a camera, a ton of shortcuts, apps, and it runs on Android.
The bottom line is, this phone has as many features as other smartphones but my favorite is obviously it being eco-friendly. Oh, and $10 premium plan activation will be waived, the phone is only $49.99 (did I say that correctly???) – YES, only $49.99 with 2 year contract of everything plan with data. *Calling plan prices are different so check the website for more details.*
So while I agree that we don’t need another gadget in our lives (to waste), if you are going to buy a smartphone, you should consider the Replenishâ„¢. And if you have a phone you want to recycle, you can send it to Sprint to recycle safely.
You really have nothing to lose.
Oh, and if you are curious about what else Sprint does, check out their green website. You’ll learn something really cool.
*Disclaimer: I was able to test the phone for two weeks and returned it to Sprint. I did not receive any payment, financiallyÂ orÂ materialistically, for this review. This review is the sole opinion of Karen Lee and not of the opinion of Team Eco Etsy which did not have the opportunity to review the phone. The Replenish will have the GreenID Pack that is pre-loaded with Eco Etsy logo that will take the phone users to this site where they can shop on members’ Etsy shops.”