Sprint, Samsung announce plans to sell a biodegradable phone

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Sprint today announced the launch of an ecofriendly Samsung cellphone, outfitted with a biodegradable plastic-casing made from 80 percent recyclable materials, with 40 percent made from corn.

The "green" cellphone, the Samsung Reclaim, displayed in packaging made from 70 percent recycled materials and printed materials using soy-based ink, will be sold for $50 with a two-year service agreement, beginning Aug. 16.

It is being touted "as the first phone in the US constructed from eco-friendly bio-plastic materials," and Sprint and Samsung say it's "free of polyvinyl chloride (PVCS), phthalates, and nearly free of brominated flame retardants," according to a press release. At this time, three other "green" phones are on the market. There's the Motorola W233 Renew, which features a casing made from recycled water bottles, and two Sony Ericsson Greenheart cellphones, also made from recycled plastics.

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Of the 140.3 million cellphones generated in 2007, only 14 million – or 10 percent – were recycled, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA reports that the recycling of electronics has increased from 15 percent between 1999-2005 to 18 percent between 2006-2007, citing the rise of mandated electronics recycling programs as a potential reason for this shift.

The cellphone is available in the colors Blue Ocean or Green Earth and features a slide-out full QWERTY keyboard, a 2 megapixel camera and camcorder, Web browser and applications to log into Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter, and Bluetooth capabilities. The phone also comes equipped with an Energy Star charger, which Sprint claims "consumes 12 times less power than the Energy Star standard for standby power consumption." Other features include green Discovery Channel applications offering green lifestyle tips, a green glossary, and links to green headlines. Sprint says that $2 proceeds from the cellphone sales, will benefit The Nature Conservancy’s Adopt an Acre program, a nonprofit organization dedicated to land conservation.

In May, Sprint began offering eco-conscious cellphone accessories including a solar-powered cellphone charger and two cellphone carrying cases made from recycled water bottles.

The launch of the Samsung Reclaim is Sprint's latest attempt to green their business. Eventually, they hope to recycle 90 percent of their cellphones by 2017, according to a press release.

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