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How is Fairphone ethical?

Published date: March 2023

Workers in factory making Fairphone holding the smartphone
The world's most ethical and sustainable phone is the Fairphone 4, which has balanced a supply chain and production model which adheres to a simple set of strong social values. This is to ensure that each step of creating the Fairphone is ethical for the people and environments involved in the development.

Best buy from Ethical Consumer

Ethical Consumer has rigorously tested and evaluated the Fairphone 4 at every step of its development and has awarded the handset a best buy product label. The research highlighted the key commitments and successes of human rights, supply chain management, workers' rights and company ethos. Whilst also appreciating the encouragement and challenge to the wider mobile technology industry, to adopt more ethical practices.

Why do we need an ethical phone?

In a world which is dominated by fossil fuel-powered industries and technologies, now more than ever we need products that are low-carbon and low in environmental impacts so the mounting challenges of climate change and ecosystem collapse are not being added to. Fairphone, which first came together in 2010, is a response to this tide of unsustainable business that still creates conflicts in regions and Countries due to resource possession, that can be mined and sold to technology companies.

Today, there are now 4 models of Fairphones that have been available with the 4th generation being the latest. The focus on an ethical mobile was due to the incredibly wide usage of mobile handsets, with much of the population using one regularly or owning one. Despite the complex nature of the Fairphone 4, it represents a simple sign of challenging practices in the technology industry to show how we can curb the increasing CO2e emissions and environmental damage caused by the production and assembly of such devices.

Strong social values in the supply chain are vital for a fair and humanely successful business, which has been recognised as the best in the industry for sustainable electronics. All factory workers at minimum receive a Living wage bonus of $2, which improves worker satisfaction, though workers' voices and representation are highly-valued too. The exploitation of workers and mistreatment is something that Fairphone is helping to end in the technology industry, one step at a time.

Helping to end Child Labour

To address child labour in mining regions, Fairphone led a project alongside other companies and organizations, in Busia, Uganda lasting from 2017-2021. The goal was to improve and assist small-scale mining communities by ending child labour and creating a sustainable gold supply chain that would benefit miners and their families in the short and long term.

This project allowed Fairphone to pilot a holistic landscape approach, that meant all key stakeholders — including community members, miners and supply chain leaders — come together to address the root causes of child labour. It was then clear how to best engage with miners to improve and sustain safer working practices, whilst introducing miners to the international supply chain of minerals.

The lessons and feedback were shared entirely with the members of the gold covenant, and have been integrated into the second phase of this project, which is Project Access. A four-year project to help further drive economic development in local areas to such mining, which has been possible due to Fairphone and other companies' support.

Transparency is key

Fairphone is the first smartphone company to ever publically disclose all of their suppliers which is considered rare in many industries. The supply chain engagement breaks down how the 83 suppliers and manufacturers contribute to the creation of the device, along with a consideration of the risks and impacts at each stage.

Fairphone feels responsible for every step they take in its journey towards an ethical and sustainable world, which is also reflected in the detail of its impact report. The results of their key performance indicators are explained and how they are specifically relevant to 9 of the 17 UN Sustainable development goals.

The future of high ethical standards?

As Fairphone is expanding each year with sales and awareness, this only adds to the growing influence they have. A point which isn't just in the public consciousness but also in the mobile technology industry, there are increasing ethical elements in other larger companies in materials and production practices.

The customers Fairphone has placed significant importance on the materials, production, workers' conditions and rights and overall environmental impact. This expectation is only reinforcing the positive work Fairphone is continually improving to meet their own demands and that of the customers too. 

If you would like to learn more about the world's most ethical phone, please visit here. Don’t forget, Your Co-op Members can enjoy 20% off all Fairphone 4 bundles for a limited time only - including 10GB, 30GB, 100GB, with unlimited calls & texts.


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