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Case Study: Smartphone Material Profiles

An analysis of ten key materials used in smartphones, interwoven with powerful insights around opportunities for improving global material supply chains, commissioned by Fairphone.

Business challenge

Innovative electronics company Fairphone asked us to identify opportunities to improve the operating practices of the businesses in its minerals’ supply chains with an overarching goal of enhancing the lives of communities touched by the making of smartphones.

Our approach

As well as making sustainable mobile phones, Fairphone seeks to drive momentum towards a fairer electronics industry. To identify the right opportunities for Fairphone, we needed to develop an approach that matched their strategic ambitions and their corporate culture.

We began with an analysis of 38 of the materials in a smartphone, selected using a set of criteria based on Fairphone’s supply chain needs and our knowledge of mining, mineral processing and supply chain management. This allowed us to prioritise issues, geographies, metals and industry segments and then identify opportunities for intervention by Fairphone and its industry peers.

We combined that information with findings from Fairphone’s recycling and mining indicators and, from our original list of 38, prioritised the ten materials critical for smartphone functionality that are most used by the consumer electronics industry. The result is Fairphone’s Smartphone Material Profiles report which highlights the issues and opportunities for each material. The report:

Client benefits and broader industry impact

Our relationship with Fairphone predates the publication of the Smartphone Material Profiles report, and we’re confident that it will continue long after.

Project partners and methodology

To create the Smartphone Material Profiles report, we used more than a hundred references of publicly available information as well as drawing on our own internal expertise. We developed the report’s design graphs and presentations and we helped Fairphone write both the report and the accompanying blogs.

“We needed a firm that had the knowledge of supply chains and risk management to help use identify sources of responsible gold for our supply chain – it seems like an almost impossible task, but we managed to find a way with the help of TDI . The TDI team intuitively know the problems that businesses face and draw on their creativity to find solutions. In our second project with TDI, we broadened the scope and reviewed all of our 40 elements in the Fairphone and together we developed a methodology to prioritise risk and focus us on opportunities that match our business objectives to make real change.
A very good experience.”

~ Laura Gerrisen, Value Chain Programme Manager, Fairphone