France’s finance ministry outlined a strategy designed to cut the environmental impact of digital technology, including launching an investigation into sales methods used by mobile operators to supply new handsets.

In its roadmap on the issue, it noted communications regulator Arcep had been instructed to conduct an “analysis of business practices” used by operators, including provision of subsidies on new handsets.

Quoting a government representative, Reuters reported the final result of the investigation could be a restriction on operators offering deals to persuade customers to replace working handsets during their initial contract term.

The Ministry of Economy and Finance document also details a range of other measures being undertaken to cut the environmental impact of digital technology.

These include continued consultation with mobile operators and related players to secure “strong commitments” on reconditioning used handsets, cutting greenhouse emissions and scaling-back packaging for devices.

Measures also cover IoT devices and other consumer electronics such as televisions.

The document notes more than 75 per cent of the environmental impact of France’s digital technology sector comes during the manufacturing phase for devices. It added a smartphone requires 50 different metals to manufacture, with between 50 million and 100 million working handsets “sleeping in our drawers”.

Along with major players across several markets, all four of France’s operators have published environmental commitments and have various projects underway to cut their respective impacts.


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