In 2013, the Dutch start-up Fairphone broke into the mobile phone market with an aim that set it apart from its competitors: to produce a “fair” smartphone that respects the environment. In the space of a decade, the brand has succeeded in carving out a place for itself in the hi-tech sector. It is now tackling an equally complicated sector, that of wireless headphones. Its philosophy, however, remains the same: durability, recyclability and social responsibility. Their first portable headphones are designed to show the electronics industry that a more sustainable approach is possible.
Sustainable design and reduced climate impact
Fairphone is replacing new (aka virgin) materials with existing ones by using recycled materials. Generally speaking, producing recycled materials requires much less energy than producing virgin materials, reducing emissions created by manufacturing Fairphone’s headphones.
Made from Fairtrade and recycled materials, the Fairbuds XL headphones feature a speckled green recycled polycarbonate casing, just like the Fairphone 4 smartphone case (see our article…). The Fairbuds XL is made from over 80% recycled plastics, 100% recycled aluminium and 100% recycled tin solder paste. The headband and ear cushions are made from vegan leather, and the travel pouch is made from recycled polyester and nylon. They are also the first and only headphones to use ethically sourced Fairtrade gold in the supply chain.
Durable products mean fewer CO2 emissions
Another facet of the brand’s philosophy is repairability. Most of the carbon emissions associated with headphones are generated during manufacture. Designing durable headphones means producing fewer of them, therefore reducing CO2 emissions. In the pursuit of an eco-friendly design, Fairphone has opted for modularity. Its new model comprises nine modular parts, which can be easily taken apart, replaced or repaired should they experience technical issues or become worn out. A small Phillips screwdriver is all you need to quickly take the headphones apart and replace the ear cushions, battery, speakers and other components.
Fairphone is also committed to the social impact of its business, paying 55 cents more per headphone produced to improve the working conditions of workers within the electronics industry.