Phone makers admit links to unsustainable tin

2nd August 2013

Related Topics

Related tags

  • Resource extraction ,
  • Electronics ,
  • Manufacturing ,
  • Stewardship ,
  • Products



Sony, Motorola, Nokia and other leading electronics companies have acknowledged that their mobile phones may contain tin from dangerous and polluting mines in Indonesia

Following a campaign from Friends of the Earth, Blackberry, LG Electronics, Motorola, Nokia and Sony have joined Samsung in revealing that it is possible their suppliers are using tin source from Bangka Island, where mines were responsible for 44 deaths in 2011 and serious environmental damage.

Indonesia is the world’s second largest exporter of tin and the vast majority of the metal is sourced from Bangka and its sister island Belitung, where mining activities have resulted in deforestation and damage to coral reefs surrounding the islands.

The six phone makers have released statements confirming that while they don’t source tin directly from Bangka-Belitung, they are aware that their suppliers are or might be using metal from the islands.

Sony revealed that a survey of its supply chain found some of its suppliers “had used tin from Bangka Island to make parts or materials for use in mobile phones”.

Meanwhile, LG Electronics, Samsung, Motorola and Nokia confirm that they cannot rule out the possibility that tin from Banka-Belitung is in their supply chains.

The electronics manufacturers confirm that they are taking action to better understand where tin is being sourced by their suppliers, and working with sector-wide initiatives to improve the sustainability of mining in the region, through the Electronics Industry Citizenship Coalition and the Sustainable Trade Initiative, for example.

LG Electronics is also developing a new system to enable better traceability of the materials used in products. “By the end of this year, all of our third-party suppliers who source 3TG metals (tantalum, tin, tungsten and gold) will have been trained to use the new system,” it states.

Friends of the Earth’s director of policy and campaigns, Craig Bennett, welcomed the manufacturers’ statements, but argued new legislation was needed to force companies to report more widely on their environmental impacts.

“To prevent problems elsewhere and help companies identify risks and inefficiencies in production, we're calling for new laws in Europe requiring them to reveal the full human and environmental impacts of their operations,” he said.

Transform articles

New Sustainability Disclosure Requirements published

Certain large businesses will need to set out their green credentials to potential investors under new reporting rules outlined by the UK government this week.

21st October 2021

Read more

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) has today unveiled the most significant changes to its reporting standards since 2016, setting a new benchmark for corporate sustainability.

5th October 2021

Read more

The Royal Botanic Gardens (RBG) in Kew has today unveiled a new strategy to tackle biodiversity loss and develop sustainable nature-based solutions to some of humanity’s biggest global challenges.

28th September 2021

Read more

Seven of the UK's 17 key industry sectors are still increasing their emissions year-on-year, and most will miss their 2050 net-zero targets without significant government action, new research suggests.

23rd September 2021

Read more

Given the proper investment and resources, the UK’s further education system can play a significant role in improving sustainability, argues Charlotte Bonner

23rd September 2021

Read more

A group of 12 leading investment consultancy firms, which advise organisations managing around $10trn (£7.3trn) in assets, have launched a new initiative to help deliver net-zero emissions by 2050.

22nd September 2021

Read more

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has published a new 'Green Claims Code' to ensure businesses are not misleading consumers about their environmental credentials.

22nd September 2021

Read more

The UK government has been “too city-focused” in its climate action and must provide more funding and support to reduce emissions in rural areas, the County Councils Network (CCN) has said.

22nd September 2021

Read more

In 2020, amid the global crisis created by the COVID-19 pandemic, we saw numerous cross-sector collaborations involving tech companies, aiming to create smart solutions that would amplify positive environmental and social impacts across sectors and organisations – for example in online healthcare or mRNA vaccine platform technology. This led the public health crisis to be referred to as “the digital accelerant of the decade” by US cloud communications platform Twilio.

30th July 2021

Read more

Media enquires

Looking for an expert to speak at an event or comment on an item in the news?

Find an expert