Voces in Action
New Eco-Ratings System Helps Consumers and the Environment
New Eco-Ratings System Helps Consumers and the Environment
August 3, 2012
by Mark D. Magaña We at the National Latino Coalition on Climate Change (NLCCC) strive to educate Americans about the detrimental effects of greenhouse gases, the risks of climate change and what Americans can do to counter or reduce pollution.  This is why we applaud AT&T for its new eco-rating system that will make it easy for customers to consider sustainability when buying mobile devices. Latinos will greatly benefit from this endeavor since this segment of the population is adopting mobile devices at a higher rate than any other segment. There are many actions we can all take to help improve our planet.  In addition to urging elected representatives to take action, individuals and families can help reduce global warming through simple steps that are easy to integrate into daily life.  Practical steps that we recommend include recycling, turning off lights when leaving a room, walking or biking when possible, using fluorescent light bulbs, and unplugging unused electronics and appliances. Such small steps can make a real difference, but there are other things we can do. Each and every one of us can try to make environmentally conscious purchasing decisions whenever possible.  However, this is often easier said than done. It can be difficult to determine whether an item is sustainable just by looking at it, making AT&T’s recent decision to make this information readily available extremely valuable to consumers. With this new eco-rating system, all new AT&T-branded postpaid mobile devices (as well as 13 more from the existing portfolio of products) will be labeled with a simple, easy-to-understand star rating – a one star to five star rating, with five stars the highest rating.  A full list of these devices, their ratings, and further information can be found at ATT.com/EcoSpace.  The rating system covers five general sustainability attributes, which are then addressed through other criteria. Some of the criteria used include the amount of post-consumer waste (PCW) plastic, the presence of power management and energy efficient features, restrictions on specific metals and compounds, and recyclability rate of the device.  Some of these criteria are meant to be challenging for manufacturers to achieve, such as the forward-looking rating on recycled metal content.  But the purpose of the eco-ratings system is not just about empowering consumers with clear and easy-to-use information; it is also designed to influence manufacturers and suppliers to affect positive environmental change themselves and to encourage the development of more environmentally focused products.  To that end, AT&T plans to update the ratings in about two years in order to account for improved performance standards and new technological advances.  AT&T is a leader in the area of sustainability, and this new eco-rating system proves their commitment to driving change in the mobile device industry. We must all remain committed in our efforts to reduce global warming pollution and to influence others in our communities to make changes and to adopt more sustainable practices.  Individuals who are engaged and educated on these issues can work together, take action, and encourage others to implement real change.  Empowering consumer purchasing decisions as AT&T has done is a vital component. Beyond recycling and turning off unused lights, the ability to choose products based on their environmental impact will help more people do their part to keep our Earth as clean as we can make it. Mark D. Magaña is the Executive Director of the National Latino Coalition of Climate Change. He is also the founder and principal of Hispanic Strategy Group, a one stop government relations, public affairs and communications consulting firm focused on serving and building strategic relationships with Congress, the Administration, and national Hispanic leaders. Mr. Magaña has amassed well over fifteen years of high-level governmental, legislative and policy experience in the nation's capital. He currently represents, and has represented, some of the most prominent companies and Hispanic organizations in the country through the Hispanic Strategy Group and through the parent consulting firm, Magaña Associates.
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