Ethical Dutch phone-maker wins German Environmental Prize 2016

Dutch ethical phone-maker founder Bas van Abel has won the German Environmental Award (Deutschen Umweltpreis) for his Fairphone. The German prize from the DBU (German Federal Environmental Foundation/Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt) is the biggest of its kind in Europe. The CEO was recognised as “a pioneer for more resource efficiency in the smartphone industry”.

Fairphone 2

Image: Fairphone

The first version of the Fairphone was developed in 2013. The initiative is to make the most ethical phone possible, as the minerals needed in today’s smartphones often fuel wars and use child labour in developing countries. Now 25,000 of these phones are in someone’s pocket.

The aim of the company is to start a process in which smartphones become longer lasting, use materials from fair sources, are produced in good working conditions throughout the line and in which components are reused and recycled.

DIY smartphones

The second version came into production earlier this year. This version is a modular phone which means you can replace any component easily. And what's more is you can do it yourself.

The new conflict-free phone can be deconstructed in minutes using a screwdriver. It is a size larger than the first version. It comes in a protective case, because even though every part can be replaced, the idea is longevity. The phone even comes with its own set of repair instructions.

Prize money

The prize money 500,000 euros is to be shared two other prize winners, Prof. Dr.-Ing. Angelika Mettke and Walter Feeß for their role in bringing the circular recycling economy to the construction industry.

Join the movement

When you start up your Fairphone, it invites users to 'join the movement'. It looks like many people have taken heed as version 2 is temporarily unavailable. Earlier this week, Bas van Abel was listed in Dutch daily newspaper Trouw’s Sustainable Top 100 in 15th place.