Motorola Takes a Giant Step for the Earth

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CSR for Dummies” is an series highlighting the different pledges and commitments made by companies in regards to product stewardship and recycling. Companies and services featured do not pay for placement and are not endorsed by

Since its founding in 1928, Motorola has established itself as an innovative leader in the global communications industry. The company is responsible for many cutting-edge firsts, including the first police cruiser radio receiver in 1936 and the first commercial hand-held cellular phone available to consumers in 1984.

Also, Motorola was behind the transmittal of the iconic words heard around the world, “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” That’s because it was a Motorola transponder that relayed voice communications and television signals from crew on the Apollo 11 to earth in 1969.


A Motorola radio transponder relayed the first words from the moon to Earth in July 1969. The transponder aboard the Apollo 11 lunar module transmitted telemetry, tracking, voice communications and television signals between Earth and the moon. Photo:

Today, the Fortune 100 company based in Schaumburg, Ill., continues to be an innovator in the industry with the manufacturing and development of wireless communications and products, semi-conductors, broadband communications and networking computing applications.

In its business model, Motorola includes a plan to maintain a positive impact on the global community and includes these features in its 2008 Corporate Responsibility Report (CSR):

Climate Change

Motorola says it is working to make products that have a minimal environmental impact. One approach to this goal is the development of a strategy that reduces greenhouse gas emissions from company operations through energy-saving adjustments, including using more renewable energy and consolidating facilities.

Since implementing these measures in 2005, Motorola says it has celebrated a 21-percent decrease in the total amount of kilowatt hours of energy used and  reduced its overall carbon footprint by 20 percent.

Currently, 40 percent of the electricity used at Motorola company headquarters is from renewable energy, while about 20 percent of the electricity is from renewable resources overall. The company hopes to increase this by 30 percent by 2020.

In 2008, Motorola launched an initiative to reduce freight packaging by fitting more products per case, double stacking pallets and replacing wood crates with lighter cardboard boxes.

Other energy-saving highlights included in the CSR:

  • Improving control systems on heating and air conditioning systems
  • Using motion sensors to switch off lights in unoccupied rooms
  • Cleaning facilities during the day, eliminating night work, which requires additional lighting
  • Using energy efficient equipment and lighting
  • Installing a power-off program for equipment and lighting during non-production hours
  • Consolidating data centers
  • Installing revolving doors to reduce heat and cooling requirements
  • Shutting off compressed air during maintenance
    Motorola ranked fourth among America's 100 Best Corporate Citizens, published by CRO magazine for performance in governance, environment, community and employment practices. Photo:

    Motorola ranked fourth among America's 100 Best Corporate Citizens, published by CRO magazine for performance in governance, environment, community and employment practices. Photo:

Supply Chain

Motorola says it manages high labor and environmental standards in both its operational procedures and also industry-wide by participating in the industry-collaborative, Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI). The GeSi was established in 2001 to advance sustainable development in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector.

And to ensure its products are manufactured using environmentally preferred materials, Motorola requires suppliers disclose material content of sources and parts provided. Motorola has also compiled a list of substances not allowed for use in any Motorola product. Banned substances on the list include materials such as illegally mined coltan and ozone-depleting substances.

Greener Products

Motorola says it is reducing its product’s impact on the environment. Operating and production principals applied each Motorola product lifecycle, from design and manufacture, to distribution, to use and end-of-life, include:

  • Usage environmentally-preferred materials
  • Improvement energy efficiency
  • Increasing the amount of recycled materials
  • Reducing packaging
  • Increasing the recyclability of products

Furthermore, Motorola is seeking alternatives to polyvinyl chloride (PVC), phthalates and brominated flame retardant (BFRs) materials and have started nixing them from some new parts.

In 2008, two energy-saving phones, called the D10 and D11, were designed to decrease resources and energy used during manufacturing. The phones, made with 20 percent post-industrial recycled plastics, automatically adjust to optimize output, using less battery power and increasing talk-time.

Most recently in 2009, Motorola launched what it calls its greenest product yet: a cellular phone called the MOTO™ W233 Renew. The phone is made using only plastics derived from plastic water bottles and is packed in minimized packaging.


The MOTO™ W233 Renew is Motorola's most environmentally friendly phone with energy-saving features and made of post-consumer materials. Photo:

And Motorola offers a green alternative for those who wish to swap their older phone for the newer Renew. Inside the phone’s 100-percent post-consumer recycled paper and non-toxic dyed packaging, consumers will find a postage-paid recycling envelope to easily return the previous cell phone for recycling.

The Renew phone, itself, is recyclable. The phone’s battery, housing, mother board and display are easily disassembled for recycling, and the phone’s housing is unpainted, making it 100-percent recyclable.

The phone also boasts up to nine hours of talk time, requiring less charging and energy use. Motorola also says the phone comes with the company’s most energy-efficient charger that uses 0.10 watts or less of standby power.

And by joining forces with, Motorola is able to offset a portion of their carbon footprint through investments in renewable energy and reforestation. For each phone purchased, Motorola helps fund a project designed to use waste methane gas from landfill sites to generate electricity. Motorola says Renew sales will help fund the restoration of forests in Louisiana. According to Motorola, over the life of the project, more than 600,000 metric tons of carbon will be absorbed.

“Motorola believes that sustaining the environment, reducing its impact on it and offering compelling products to help its customers grow and green their business makes good business sense,” says Motorola’s Senior Director of Environmental Initiatives Don Bartell.

Helping Consumers Reduce Carbon Footprints

Motorola encourages consumer environmental responsibility too. Software in newly designed mobile phones reminds users to unplug their chargers after use and come with energy-saving settings enabled.

In 2008, the company collected more than 2,560 tons of electronic equipment waste for recycling through global take-back programs that sponsor reuse, recycling and responsible disposal of Motorola products.

And Motorola consumers can use the company’s Web site for environmental information. Consumers can find a product ECO Facts and information on where and how to recycle certain Motorola products.

Motorola in the Long Run

Overall, Motorola says its quest to play a part toward a solution to climate change and to reduce its environmental footprint is fated for the long term.

Some of these initiatives listed on the company’s CSR include:

  • Product stewardship: Design all products for the environment and for safety
  • Zero waste: Reuse or recycle all waste materials
  • Benign emissions: Eliminate from manufacturing sites all emissions that adversely impact the environment
  • Closed loop: Fully integrate products and processes in the recycling loop to conserve natural resources
  • Zero occupational injuries and illnesses: Create a workplace free of occupational injuries and illnesses
  • Green energy: Use energy in highly efficient ways at sites and increase use renewable energy

“Motorola is on a journey, working to reduce its carbon footprint and enabling its customers to be more environmentally responsible in tackling the environmental challenges facing our societies,” says Bartell.

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