Fairphone's environmental footprint only marginally better than Apple

This is a statement by me.

In my opinion it is unfair to the miners and workers (and to Fairphone for that matter) to publish a ranking where Apple is only half a rank worse than Fairphone. Maybe it’s a problem of not giving enough emphasis on repairability, or whatever.

At best it should look like this, where red is “doesn’t make impact in the whole supply chain” and green “has a holistic approach towards the improvements in the supply chain”.

Mockup by me.

PS.: Did you all realize that the “E” is missing?

So much for wishful thinking. :wink:

Sorry, but fair means fair to everyone and one simply can not pretend, that Apple and other companies are working like factories in the early 20th century.

Quite the contrary.
Every progress those companies are making proves

  • 1st - Fairphone right
  • 2nd - Fairphone’s impact on the market

Failing to notice that maybe the production conditions in Apple plants have changed for the better since the FoxConn scandal (please regard this as a hypothesis not as a statement, as I did not check it’s validity) would render such a report useless and a waste of paper and energy.

Since the focus of this report is green electronics, it has to be acknowledged, that Apple and Google are frontrunners with regard to Elimination of Brominated Flame Retardants and Polivinyl Chloride

You are free to do your own research and your own ranking. Your mockup is just one of many possible variables, while Greenpeace took more into consideration.
Not to tell, that I would have done it the same way like Greenpeace, but I wouldn’t have done it your way either.

My guess would be, the left the “E” out to avoid misunderstandings with the “E” in E-waste etc.
The scale is listed in the full report on page 5.


@Stefan @BertG
The rating scale is based on academic grading in the United States, where “D” (or sometimes “D-”) is the lowest passing grade, “E” doesn’t exist, and “F” means “Failed”.


That’s not a fair point. Greenpeace mission has always been the protection of our environment - to all humans benefit. I say that is not stubborn, but useful. There are other organizations focusing on human welfare alone. It’s better to fight for one thing than trying to do everything right.

I also disagree about the pressure thing on Apple and Co. If a small company can reach such a ranking, it is absolutely possible for Apple to beat them, given there immensely greater resources and impact. It is on us and all other customers to put pressure on Apple and Google and Samsung and all the others.

Most importantly, they have to work with transparent and traceable methods. It’s not and cannot be about being fair to the employees in Fairphones factories, because if they would be playing favorites, the would loose their credibility. Given the really small market share Fairphone has, it’s a great sign of their good will and recognition of Fairphones ideas that the Fairphone is even included at all.


It’s hard to argue with Greenpeace fanboys about a Greenpeace report. :wink:

It’s awful to see such a powerful organization as Greenpeace misuse their power by painting a picture of the not-so-bad Apple. And at the same time leaving people in the dark about all the other issues connected to electronics supply chains. The Greenpeace report diagram is simplifying the situation enormously. Besides, IMO, it makes it too easy for disciples of the technocratic sustainability paradigm to abuse of the very diagram for their own goals:

If we are thinking that “green electronics” (what a contradiction) will give us a good consciousness, we are unbelievably naive.

From my point of view Greenpeace is effectively greenwashing Apple.


You made me start to wonder about the methodology for choosing the “17 of the world’s leading consumer electronics companies” (didn’t know that Fairphone was one of the world’s leading…). I’m starting to doubt that Fairphone’s inclusion in this report is even beneficial for the company. If Fairphone had the pile of money and the power that Apple has, it would excel the other manufacturers by miles and score an A+++. That’s just my two cents on comparing Apples and oranges.

People, let’s not fight and call each other names - like G-fanboys. :wink:
I think we can all agree that Fairphone exceeds in many fields not included in the Greenpeace guide, but that doesn’t mean that they intentionally disregarded these areas to make Apple and co look better.
It’s just a ranking and “we” are in first place. Let’s not be sore winners and bicker about by how much we should have won.


If you call that arguing … :cry:

Obviously you dislike Greenpeace by heart?
Well, I don’t. Seeing more sides than one does not render one’s arguments invaluable. (Quite the contrary in my humble opinion.)
@ben has made a lot of very good points there.

Talking about fanboyship:

So what? They don’t have the money and therefore they are not miles ahead of the rest. That’s a pity, but that’s the way it is.

The simple fact, that Fairphone is ahead of all the other companies, is just marvellous.
And it is an embarrassment for all the other companies, to be outsmarted by a small company from Europe!

And that’s most likely, why Fairphone has been included into a report by Greenpeace USA, where they even don’t sell their phones.

You don’t like Apple. Ok. So do I.
You don’t want to give Apple credit for what they do? Ok. I just happen to not agree on that point.
That doesn’t make me like that company, but if they don’t use any BFR and PVC and are way better on that behalf than e.g. Lenovo or Samsung, that is valid information to the public.

And if it’s not Fairphone that puts pressure on the other companies, then it’s the scoring for Apple that puts pressure on Huawei and the others.

In my opinion that is a very important point, the impact of which I would not understimate.

As for “greenwashing”:
You do realize, that Apple scores a “C” for “Resource Consumption”?

Well, that depends.
I am absolutely sure, that there are quite a few people to whom owning “green electronics” gives a good consciousness.
On the other hand, even you with your insight do own a smartphone. I guess, like me, you don’t do so for your consciousness, but because you need it and therefore you have selected the most sensible choice: Fairphone. I assume you would be glad if everyone would follow your lead? Now Greenpeace has just strenghend your arguments for Fairphone.
And just a tiny - but most important - correction:
The report is not about “Green Electronics” but “Greener Electronics”, as the whole report is a description of why electronics is not “Green”.


World’s leading … companies is a very flexible definition. :wink: I guess we can agree that there are some aspects in which Fairphone is actually leading, as the guide shows: transparency, modularity, raising awareness for issues related to electronic manufacturing.

Green washing is not true. Also, but that is another point, the 1 year product cycle at Apple is not the problem. You don’t see many if any smartphones used as long as iPhones are often used, or sold as long, or repaired at the same age, even the market for parts is huge years after the introduction to market. Apples stores and partners offering repairs etc is industry leading. You don’t get that good support on many phones and if that means longer usage of the phone, that’s great.


My point is that the combination of words “green electronics” is a contradiction in itself. How is that even defined?

Second point:

Quite the contrary in my opinion. Greenpeace has strengthened the arguments of my Apple-fanboy friends. :wink: Why should I get a Fairphone with all its flaws, when I can get an iPhone that is only worse than Fairphone by a fraction?

Ok, I do acknowledge that Apple does better then the rest in the use of renewable energy and chemicals. I’d like to challenge you, however, to question their reasons for this. Is it because they really care for the nature and the individual people behind their products? Or are they fearing a loss of profits if they don’t adapt a bit to the environmentalist world? In my opinion, Apple’s effort is hypocritical as long as there are still reports like this one (Chinese students claim they worked illegal overtime making the iPhone X, 21st November 2017) or this one (Apple Supplier Workers Describe Noxious Hazards at China Factory, 16th January 2018).

Not good enough.

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Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

Here is a controversial point: Do we need to care? Apple is a quite normal company whose purpose it is to generate profit. If we as customers can force them to do good for profit, that’s great.

Of course, I prefer a social company like Fairphone to Apple, but it’s not the point of a rating like that of Greenpeace.

I don’t really care that Apple is following right behind Fairphone in the rating. To be honest, I would not even care if Apple was in front of Fairphone.


I do agree with @ben in each and every aspect of his posting!

If I start accepting good behaviour only if there is a moral compass behind it, that complies with my (high?) standards, where would that leave me?
Ain’t it enough, that the world is a better place, even if not everyone has the “right” reasons to keep it that way?

I am quite happy and satisfied, if nobody ever punches me or steals my belongings.
I don’t care if it is done out of fear of punishment by the police or by me or because the ten commandments forbid it or because someone loves me or for whatever reason.
Obviously it’s great to be loved, but to me that’s no condition for enjoying my staying unharmed.

Everyone arguing along that line is just searching for some excuse to stay a “fanboy” (where does that leave the girls e.a. btw.).
First of all it’s true only, when looking at the final results and not at the individual ratings or at reports like the ones you linked. Someone turning a blind eye to those facts might see his argument for Apple strengthened, when in fact it is not.
In my humble opinion such a report is not created for the purpose of looking just at an individual fact or quote and base the judgement of the whole company on it.
That would be a misuse of it.
While it’s correct to say that Apple is doing more with regard to renewable energies, that fact, is quite self explanatory. As they employ whole factories over years, they are thereby having the possibility to influence decisions like the energy used; whereas Fairphone only has the option to choose among the manufacturers willing to work with them based on the mandatory social condition etc.
So, if some of your friends do argue along that line, you have lots of arguments to counter that, by going into the report in detail and comparing the companies on levels not taken into consideration; like social engagement, openness for other software etc.

AND Fairphone still has beaten Apple in the final ranking.
Just tell your friends, that the one who finishes second is nothing but the first looser; and you prefer to stick with the winner (that kind of “argument” might work with Apple addicts. :wink: ).

The simple fact, that a study can be misused by selective quoting is no reason to not do the research or publish the results.
That’s all from me with regard to that discussion.

Who ever said, that Apple is already doing good (or good enough)? If that would be the case, they would have scored an A or A+ in all categories of the report. And even so; the report does not cover all relevant aspects.

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Is it really becoming a better place this way? Do bad people become better by doing good things with the wrong intention?

What counts in my opinion are good intentions. I’ve not seen any [Apple | Samsung | any other big electronics company]'s executive managers express their honest concernment about the social and environmental issues connected to their products. How do they sleep at night? Money and power make them blind. What’s good about profits that are made by exploiting other people?

They don’t really. :wink: I think the main reason for a friend of mine getting an (old?) iPhone was that the FP2 is too hard to get in Austria these days and that it was also too expensive for her. I do think that she is kind of aware of the problems with electronics, but that she also doesn’t find it worthwhile to inform herself in depth and spend as much time on the Fairphone forum as we do. :sweat_smile:

At this point I want to say thank you two, @ben & @BertG for bearing with me and my opinions and discussing them seriously. I also want to thank @paulakreuzer for her call to calm down. I guess the world is also not as doomed as I’ve painted it above. :sunflower:


Is this not the way change works?
Take the law. Be it environmental laws, laws on worker rights or anything else: they make people do good/better things. I would think that’s a good thing and it let us evolve to a better world…
Or even, take the example of Fairphone: they show other brands what’s possible in socially responsible electronics. Imagine consumer pressure on this topic makes Apple promise they will use conflict-free minerals and pay better wages. Is that a bad thing, just because it’s done under pressure? Or would you be happy, because one of the main goals of Fairphone has been achieved?


Why do we need laws in the first place? Because of people with bad intentions. I’m not saying that I do everything right, but I have the intention of doing good.

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Because Anarchy ranges from the very left to the very right on the political spectrum. If you have a anarchistic society with only one type of anarchists that might work - e.g. all work together out of the good of their hearts and on the end of the day they all dance in a barefoot circle around a bonfire - or all people shoot each other and on the end of the day only the strong survive.

But in a society where people have different believes laws are necessary.

As that’s an interesting new question, just my 2cents on that.

  • Many people act out of good intentions. Often even those good intentions create conflict, as not everyone has the same understanding of “good intentions” or is lead by the same priorities.
  • Where do good intentions come from? Are they a natural gift one person has and the other one lacks? Are they social guidelines internalized during the upbringing? Or is it even way more complex and they are a mix from lots of sources.

Anyway; as not every member of a society has the same good intentions or the same understanding of what’s good and what isn’t, law is a way of clarifing what rules/intentions need to be followed for the society to work out. The larger a society becomes, the more need there is for that kind of law, as the conflict resolution between individuals meeting by circumstance and completely unknown to each other does not come as natural as it should in smaller groups like families.
People with bad intentions only add up to that need of regulation by law.
(Btw.: In my opinion there is hardly anyone acting out of good intentions all the time; not knowing the feeling of loathing or revenge.)

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Would that be that smart ? Basically to say “We just don’t care, but …” ???

Yes, this is what Greenpeace aims for - and it is ok; you just habe to keep in mind that there are other aspects and you need to decide about the relative importance.

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@Raph Out of curiosity, are you a vegetarian or vegan? Because animal agriculture is one of the biggest polluters, far outpacing all electronics…

Also I’m more interested in Fairphone due to it’s modularity, and mainly because they–at least–make an attempt to use materials that weren’t mined by children, slaves, or both…

@paulakreuzer Uhhhh, anarchy is a left wing ideology by definition… You can’t have chiefless society and capitalism, it’s an oxymoron. Plus all the “original” anarchists–like Bakunin and Proudhon–were hardcore socialists too. They’d laugh at right wing anarchists.

It’s just austro-fascism re branded when people talk about anarcho-capitalism, at least here in the states, where it’s most prevalent… It’s not anarchism in any way, shape, or form unless there are no chiefs.

It is important to realize the different interests of interest groups.

There’s basically 3 global interest groups:

  1. Nature/environment. Example (more specific): Greenpeace.
  2. People. Example (more global): civil rights movement.
  3. Animals. Example (more global): vegan movement.

And they just do not always align. If you take for example Co2 footprint that is something environmentalists care about (group #1) but for people from group #3, such as vegans, its not their primary interest.

Consider for example the choice of eating chicken versus cows. If you want a meal with chicken meat, one chicken can serve far less human beings than a cow. So net more chicken suffer, so it is better to eat cow, right? Not quite, because cows have a higher Co2 footprint… there is no best choice between the two, it depends on your interests.

People who are interested in Fairphone are divided between group #1 and #2 (and within subgroups as well, e.g. someone who is passionate about privacy may not care about child labor or fair wage or FOSS). Hence the interests of the Fairphone community are partly aligned with Greenpeace, partly not. You always need to put the things from special interest groups in perspective. But many special interest groups are seen as “normal”. For example, when the ECB says something…

As for the general topic: Fairphone is an example of how other companies could do it. Its leading by example. If other companies go from F to D or from D to B or have become A that is progress!

As for Apple, sure they’re a competitor, but an outlier. They’re a higher price and performance segment, and a completely different (closed) ecosystem. If they do really well in the environmental aspect, that’s because they’re barely a competitor more win-win for Fairphone than when a direct competitor (price/performance-wise) does. But either way, in the end, competition is a good thing.