O2 Eco rating for mobile phones: numbers driving systems innovation? Really?
Eco rating, the UK’s first scheme rating the sustainability of mobile phones, has won nominations for two awards, crowning a couple of coups for the project. Back in August 2010 we were delighted to see Eco rating see the light of, well, O2’s shops and website. Since then, this project has become a brilliant example of how a measurement approach can drive innovation into many elements of a system, rather than just one pocket. Or in other words: how an organizational change project can become an enabler of system change.
In the UK, O2 uses the Eco rating assessment scores to engage with mobile phone manufacturers around the sustainability agenda. On top of continuing to drive change within the O2 UK business and its supply chain, the Eco rating scheme is now reaching the wider Telefónica Group. Telefónica O2 Germany, for example, uses the Eco rating methodology and introduced the customer-facing element of the scheme today. And that would be coup number one for you.
Coup number two is the success of the ‘functionality’ element of the Eco rating scheme. With this we mean mobile phone functions and pre-installed software (such as point to point walking maps) that encourage consumer behaviours which are good for the planet. The inclusion of consumer behaviour elements in the Eco rating assessment can only be viewed as pushing sustainability boundaries. So we are very pleased to have the opportunity to propose this aspect of the Eco rating scheme to the European Commission. We at Forum for the Future are currently updating the EU Green Public Procurement guidelines for mobile phones in the light of the Eco rating project, with the revised GPP guidelines published in November 2011.
The icing on the cake has been two recent award nominations for Eco rating: one from the Ethical Corporation Awards and one from the Guardian Sustainable Business Awards. We know that O2 UK didn’t win the Ethical Corporation Award - that one went to a brilliant Co-operative campaign. Word’s still out on The Guardian award but either way, we’re just happy that others have recognized that the Eco rating scheme is a success. In the meantime, we’ll continue to observe and learn how the scheme, started as a humble measurement project, will continue to reach further elements of the Information and Communication Technology industry, the public sector and engage consumers.