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Industry commits to 'greener' products following pilot projects

Pilot projects funded by the European Commission have led to two manufacturers committing to reducing the environmental impact of mobile telephones and wooden garden furniture.

Led by Finland's Nokia, a range of companies have volunteered to take additional steps to cut mobil...

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Pilot projects funded by the European Commission have led to two manufacturers committing to reducing the environmental impact of mobile telephones and wooden garden furniture.

Led by Finland's Nokia, a range of companies have volunteered to take additional steps to cut mobile phone energy consumption, reduce the use of hazardous materials in their manufacture, and increase consumer awareness of recycling. France's Carrefour has meanwhile committed, with other stakeholders, to reducing the environmental impact of wooden garden chairs through design changes. The Commission is now calling on other industries to reduce environmental impact in a similar fashion.

'Looked at globally, the production and consumption of products have a huge impact on our environment thought the use of resources, energy and transport and the creation of waste,' said EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas. '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.'

Nokia estimates that if only 10 per cent of the world's mobile phone users unplugged their charger once their phone was fully charged, enough energy would be saved to power 60,000 European homes for a year. With this in mind, the company has committed to reducing energy consumption by equipping phones with reminders for users to unplug their chargers once the battery is recharged.

Other commitments include eliminating or reducing the use of certain flame retardants and phthalates in the production process, increasing the number of phones returned for recycling, and providing more environmental information and guidance to consumers.

The project on wooden garden chairs resulted in a commitment to ensure that the wood is sustainably produced, design changes make material use more environmentally friendly, and transportation is made easier, thereby reducing energy consumption and pollution.

The European Commission will assess manufacturers' progress in meeting these commitments in a year's time, and will also draft a list of products sold on the European market which have the greatest potential for environmental improvement.