The Fairphone 1 and its successor, the Fairphone 2, may not be the most well-known or highest-selling smartphones in the world, but the devices come with a unique proposition that understandably appeals to many a user. The company behind the brand says that its main motivation behind embarking on the project was to develop a smartphone that does not fund violence and human rights abuses in conflict-prone zones around the world. Fairphone is based out of Amsterdam, Netherlands, and most of the materials it acquires for use in its phones are reportedly conflict-free, even though the company makes it a point to source its materials from high-risk regions like the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda so as to help rebuild the communities in these war-torn nations.
However, try as they might, the Fairphone staff could not get all of the materials from conflict-free sources for either of the two devices the company has released thus far. Now, however, things seem to be changing for the better, as the company has now announced that it has “traceable supply chains for all four internationally-recognized conflict minerals”, which happen to be tantalum, tin, tungsten and gold. While the Dutch firm already uses certified Fairtrade gold and conflict-free tantalum and tin in its Fairphone 2, it is now saying that after a long and arduous struggle trying to get more conflict-free materials for its phones, it has finally been able to integrate conflict-free tungsten in its supply chain.
Starting this August, the tungsten used in Fairphone's devices will come from the conflict-free New Bugarama mine in Northern Rwanda that employs between 700 and 1200 people and has comparatively improved health and safety standards for its workers. Fairphone also says that about half its tungsten requirement comes from recycled sources, thus making the Fairphone 2 environment-friendly. What’s interesting is that the company does not only take great care in sourcing its raw materials responsibly, but also reportedly pays out a portion of its revenues to a worker welfare fund that helps the workers who actually manufacture the Fairphone devices. While the popularity of the Fairphone won’t help end all the bloodshed around the world, the founder of the company and buyers of the device need to be lauded for starting and sustaining a movement that will hopefully gain more momentum in the days to come.