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Why Ford Should Make a Green Smartphone



While smartphone manufacturers have moved past the days of neon green trim on green smartphones, environmentally friendly smartphones remain niche products that cannot stand on their own merits.

We shouldn’t need to choose between a green smartphone and a great smartphone.

Take the LG Optimus Elite, a new green Android smartphone with a paltry 800Mhz processor that wouldn’t attract any attention if it weren’t for the 50% recycled plastics shell.

Compared to new Ford vehicles, which incorporate recycled and green materials in the construction in a meaningful way, green smartphones are laughable.

Ford Green Materials

Sample of green materials under evaluation in Ford Labs.

Ford uses recycled tires for gaskets and seals in most Ford vehicles, plastic bottles for the seats of the Focus Electric, denim, soy and more to lessen the environmental impact of new Ford cars, SUVs and trucks. But, the green features are not the sole reason to buy a Ford — there’s EcoBoost, Sync and of course style.

I don’t want a soybean smartphone, but I wouldn’t mind a smartphone made of some of the new green materials Ford is working on.

Ford is investigating the use Coconut fiber reinforcement for plastic in vehicles, which are lighter than traditional reinforcing agents and have an added benefit of looking great.

While at Ford earlier this year Mike Perlman of TechnoBuffalo and I admired the look of coconut plastics, which we agreed would look great as the back of a green phone, with a high-end look.


Coconut plastic could mean greener, lighter smartphones.

What’s stopping consumer electronics companies from adopting this type of plastic tech for our phones and gadgets? Time and testing, but the good news is we may see coconut or recycled U.S. Currency reinforcing the plastic of our smartphones sooner than the materials make it into production Ford vehicles.

Dr. Ellen Lee, Technical Expert for Plastics Research at Ford told GottaBeMobile that, “Consumer electronics are a great place to use renewably sourced and recycled materials.”

armrest w shredded currency and pellets

Shredded U.S. Currency lives on as a plastic reinforcement agent.

There is already a lot of interest from electronics manufacturers in new plastics tech, and according to Dr. Lee, Ford has already shared information with companies.

Dr. Lee says, “In many ways the requirements for consumer electronics are less demanding than for automotive (smaller range of operating temperatures, shorter lifetime – 1-5 years versus 10-15 years).”

Manufactures certainly want to deliver phones that can handle the rigors of daily use and abuse, so there will be testing involved.

It’s good to know that information companies are sharing information about greener plastics and products.

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