“Orange, a player committed to respecting the planet, responds to customers’ environmental concerns.”
Orange has been pursuing an eco-friendly, pro-circular economy approach for a long time due to its awareness of the digital industry’s environmental impact. It showed its commitment to being eco-friendly with the Fairphone 3, a smartphone with detachable parts that comes with a screwdriver. Julien Giner, a Project Manager at Orange, explained this unique quality of the phone: “In just a few minutes, using a simple screwdriver, I can disassemble the phone and replace most of its components: the battery, screen, antennas”. “This modular approach, where everything can not only be disassembled, but also repaired and recycled, means the phone’s shelf life is extended. Compared to the 18-month to 2-year shelf life expected for smartphones, on the hardware side the Fairphone is expected to last 5 or 10 years”, added Xavier Augustin, manager of the Fairphone account at Orange.
Created in 2013 by a crowdfunding campaign, Fairphone, a Dutch company with the same name as the product it markets, is not intending to release new models every six months in a bid for improved performance, as most manufacturers do.
A partnership between Orange and Fairphone
This partnership, originating from the distribution of the Fairphone 2 by Orange France in 2017, reflects the environmental values shared between Orange and Fairphone.
Fairphone’s creators wanted to make the electronics industry fairer by producing more sustainable smartphones. They did this by responsibly sourcing recycled materials and integrating fair trade rules into their supply chain. Mineral suppliers are verified and selected according to different environmental criteria.
By designing niche phones, the company targets conscious customers, who buy repairable products and who are increasingly focused on issues related to climate change and digital equality. “This type of customer is growing in number”, said Xavier Augustin, referring to numerous opinion studies that show environmental issues are one of people’s major concerns. “At Orange, we firmly believe that in the coming years, it will not be possible to perform well economically without an exemplary social and environmental record”.
Following the success of the Fairphone in France, Orange aims to market it soon in Portugal and then in Spain. The idea is also to convince manufacturers to change their environmental practices, from the product design stage.
Economic performance and an exemplary social and environmental record with the Livebox 5
Orange also pursues this idea with the Livebox 5. “Marketed last September, this box incorporates the various principles of the circular economy that our group has long adhered to. First and foremost, with the use of recycled products”, said Elyass Najmi, Head of Livebox 5 at Orange. The circular economy enables most materials to be reused and includes the possibility of repairing and recycling. “We must consider the end of life of the products from the outset, for example, being able to disassemble their different components, separate them, find out if any parts can be recycled, and identify and avoid certain pollutants.”
Answers to all these issues were considered at Orange as part of the launch of Livebox 5. “Work started very far in advance to ensure that it was environmentally friendly, from design to end of life.”
A transformation of the production and distribution processes
Everywhere in France, whenever an Orange customer brings his or her Livebox for repair, the boxes get a full overhaul that extends their lifetime and helps reduce their environmental impact. After registering the boxes to ensure their traceability, they are separated into three categories. Faulty equipment is repaired under the manufacturer’s warranty. Working equipment is restored by sanding and polishing the case, and cleaning and changing cables if necessary. Each restored box then undergoes a series of technical tests to ensure that it is performing as new. Equipment at the end of its life is sent to a recognised body so its components can be recycled and reused.
The Livebox 5 also benefits from environmentally friendly packaging: only vegetable-based inks are used and the paper is FSC-certified, having an environmental label that represents structured planting of trees when one is cut down.
It can more efficiently be loaded by haulage companies due to being more compact and lightweight (25% lighter than Livebox 4). “A pallet can hold 232 Liveboxes compared to 204 for Livebox 4”, Elyass Najmi noted.
Easily repairable, the Livebox 5 has a case made from 100% recycled plastic, with fewer components than the previous box. The plastic granules are produced in Austria. The case is 35% of the total weight of the packaged product and the carbon footprint of the recycled plastic is 42% smaller than the original material. “This box has a 29% smaller carbon footprint and achieves better technological performance than the Livebox 4”, concluded Elyass Najmi.
Recycling, restoring, and reconditioning constitute a process of continuous improvement that ultimately balances economic performance with the sustainable approach of a carrier committed to the environment and respecting the planet.