Nokia Wraps Up With Sustainable Packaging

Old Nokia Box

I love it when a company gets its sustainable house in order before tooting its own horn. Nokia has been quietly making the rounds of the blogosphere with talk of its environmental cred, and it turns out, it’s pretty darn impressive. A couple weeks ago, Treehugger featured Nokia’s robust Eco-Profiles, an inventory of  every product Nokia sells, along with its environmental impact, from material use, to energy efficiency, packaging, disassembly and recycling. We here at 3p love to see companies jump right in and deal with the big issues, and it’s all the more impressive when they put the data right out there without sugar coating it, for any eco-geek to read.

This solid informative database barely even crossed the lips of Kirsi Sormunen in her keynote at Sustainable Brands. Instead she focused on the materials embedded in a cell phone, and the packaging that goes along with it. She started with the obvious. Nokia cell phones have gotten a lot smaller– from 4.8kg when they were first produced in 1984 to 79g in 1999. That’s  10.58->.17 pounds to Americans. That’s a lot of avoided garbage.

But we all knew that, and let’s be honest, it has more to do with technological advancement and consumer preference than sustainability.

But Sormunen was just getting warmed up. Over the past couple years, Nokia has made a concerted effort to reduce packaging. The first step was changing its approach to distributing phone chargers. No longer is a charger included with each new phone. If a consumer’s old charger does not work with her new model she can purchase one separately.

New Nokia Box

Without the charger to stick in the box, Nokia concentrated on reducing its package and was thereby able to make the box 1/4 of the size.

When Sormunen picked up and old Nokia box and pulled the new one out with dramatic fanfare, the crowd burst into applause so fervent you would think she announced free phones for everyone. That wasn’t the case, the impact of this small change is just that impressive:

Nokia’s small boxes allow them to take every other truck off the road and still ship the same amount of product. The company has removed 12,000 trucks from the road and saved €500 million with the smaller box.

It’s amazing what can happen when you think inside the box instead of outside of it.

Jen Boynton

Jen Boynton is editor in chief of TriplePundit and editorial director at 3BL Media. With over 6 million annual readers, TriplePundit is the leading publication on sustainable business and the Triple Bottom Line. Prior to TriplePundit, Jen received an MBA in Sustainable Management from the Presidio Graduate School. In her work with TriplePundit she's helped clients from SAP to PwC to Fair Trade USA with their sustainability communications messaging. When she's not at work, she volunteers as a CASA -- court appointed special advocate for children in the foster care system. She enjoys losing fights with toddlers and eating toast scraps. She lives with her family in sunny San Diego.

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