I have finally gotten around to speaking out about a pile of paper that arrives in my mail each month. It's my cellphone invoice. Well, it's all my cellphone transactions. We have three active phones (me, my husband, my daughter), one cellular modem for my laptop and one micro-sim for my iPad. All these charges are paid from my one account. I need at least one printed invoice because my accountant says I cannot submit an electronic version for my business accounts, and my phone and peripherals are a business expense. So, in a normal, reasonable, environmentally conscious world, I would expect to receive one envelope, with one piece of paper listing all the charges that will be deducted by standing order from my account.
This is what I received from my provider, Pelephone:
Seven envelopes and eight pieces of paper.
All for one account.
Paper, ink, postage, handling ... seven times more than required. Multiply this by hundreds of thousands of subscribers and the amount of resource wastage is mind boggling.
This is despite a declaration on the Pelephone website that they are committed to environmental protection, although this is as minimal as you can get.
I wrote to Pelephone, asking what they could do about this wastefulness but have yet to receive a response (after 24 hours). An email query promises a response within SEVEN working days while a query on the Pelephone Facebook page promises a response within TWO working days. I decided not to wait. This is the age of instant.
Israel is often cited as having one of the highest per capita usage rates for cellphones worldwide (this may be explained by the link to security concerns and many schoolchildren carry cellphones for this reason). There are three main cellular providers in Israel: Cellcom, Partner (Orange) and Pelephone. It's hard to say that any of them present a good option for sustainability. All have been taken to task by the Israeli government in the past year for anti-consumer policies including prohibitive interconnection charges, lack of transparency regarding fees and connection speed rates, grossly high prices and lack of customer responsiveness. Service is abysmal at all three companies (and I have been a customer of all three at different times). I believe the telecommunications industry is one of the least trusted in the country though, regrettably, one of the most indispensible. As far as sustainability is concerned, Partner, with 32% market share, has produced two sustainability reports, the last one covering 2009. Cellcom has produced one sustainability report covering the year 2008, and Pelephone has produced zero sustainability reports and is the least transparent in all respects of all three companies.
However, even without a commitment to sustainability, saving resources just makes common sense. Perhaps that's the secret ingredient that is lacking in our celluar industry in my home market. Perhaps common sense is the more difficult thing to achieve than improvement in 3G connection speeds.
elaine cohen, CSR consultant, Sustainability Reporter, HR Professional, Ice Cream Addict. Author of CSR for HR: A necessary partnership for advancing responsible business practices Contact me via www.twitter.com/elainecohen on Twitter or via my business website www.b-yond.biz/en (BeyondBusiness, an inspired CSR consulting and Sustainability Reporting firm)