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September 21, 2009

Nokia earns global sustainability kudos – the stories behind the success

eco4ESPOO, Finland – The natural reaction at Nokia may be to blush coyly with news that it has today been named the world’s most sustainable technology company, according to the freshly released Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes for 2009-10. However, here on Conversations we’re unabashedly proud to see Nokia earn the top slot as the most sustainable technology company in the world, because we’ve been keen followers, eagerly writing about many of the great stories, projects and initiatives that Nokia has been committed to in order to help get it to the position it has achieved today.

Of course, most of the folk directly involved with bringing the ethos of innovative sustainability to life at Nokia are indeed of the blushing breed, but as we’re not (remember Conversations is written by an Anglo-Brazilian, a couple of Americans and an Irishman!) we’ll happily shine a light on some of the smart projects and some lesser-read public Nokia documents that go some way to understanding how and why Nokia continues to be so focused on being a company actively in pursuit of employing great sustainability practices.

From a product perspective and reducing environmental impact, we’ve witnessed some brilliant stories over the past 12 months, exploring packaging, energy saving solutions (and landmark collaborations) and recycling.


In December 2008 we ran a piece on Nokia’s approach to packaging and ethical consumption, which highlighted some amazing figures and showed a significant impact of reduced packaging and applying a different approach to traditional methods. Here’s a snippet from that article, highlighting these points: “Kirsi Sormunen heads up environmental affairs at Nokia and she also told us Nokia is looking at shipping products without chargers. The charger is one of the biggest factors when it comes to packaging, particularly in the UK where chargers are naturally big. Since reducing the size of product packaging, Nokia has effectively taken 12,000 trucks off the road, used 100 tonnes less paper and saved €470million. These changes don’t happen fast though. There are still a number of products shipping in the older, larger packs, but the change is happening.” (read the full story)


Around the same time Nokia launched a new site called Green Explorer in collaboration with Lonely Planet and the WWF to help people by sharing sustainable tips and advice on living and traveling in a greener way. It’s available as a widget on your device, and the site also highlights another solution we covered in great detail here on Conversations called we:offset – a mobile tool designed to help you track and offset your CO2 emissions on the move (read our we:offset big round-up). The site is certainly worth a look if you haven’t visited before, as is the widget and the we:offset app.


Energy saving has again been an area of great debate and focus, which saw in November of 2008 the big phone charger question revisited, a new energy star rating system unveiled and multi-manufacurer solidarity forged on the issue. Here’s a snippet: “The new star rating system “indicates how much energy each charger uses when left plugged into the wall socket after charging is completed.  The ratings covers all chargers currently sold by the five companies, and range from five stars for the most efficient chargers down to zero stars for the ones consuming the most energy.” This marks a significant and evolutionary leap forward for accelerating the improvement of eco efficiency in mobile phone chargers, and raising awareness surrounding the subject.” (read the full story).


The topic of crucial minerals and materials has been openly and actively engaged, as explored in a great piece by Charlie in April of this year. It definitely warrants a sit down and serious read – “We have no taste for unethical sources of crucial materials”.

Recycling has equally been an area Nokia has been keenly involved in innovating within. We ran a story earlier this year that touched on a number of the issues, ideas and initiatives in a piece entitled “One man’s trash is another man’s problem”. If you want to find out more about all the things Nokia is doing in this space, stick the kettle on and have a good read, as this piece links off to much of what’s being done in this important area of development.

Alongside all these stories (there are plenty more you can explore in our Environment section here on Conversations, including all the recent Progress Project news), it’s worth taking a closer look at the many pages and interesting documents within the Corporate Responsibility and Environment sections of the Nokia site. Publicly available, yet lesser-read, these valuable and inspiring spaces have been reserved to highlight how Nokia approaches sustainability and the environment.

There’s a lot of stuff in there, but if you’re interested in discovering more, in particular, you might find the following pages and documents of interest:

  • Environment strategy – here you can read about what Nokia is aiming to achieve and a number of the projects and initiatives it is currently undertaking.
  • Nokia Code of Conduct (available in 34 languages) – this document gives great insight into many areas of the business including sustainability and the environment.
  • Product development and sustainable design – short overviews on each with links off to interesting associated projects.

There’s still lots to be done, but what do you think to all this? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.