Social Design Pathway: Fairphone 

Fairphone is a social enterprise company which aims to develop smartphones that are designed and produced with minimal environmental impact

 Built on 4 tenents 


Long-Lasting Design​ | Fair Materials | Good Working Conditions | Reuse and Recycling

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Mark Post, co-founder and CSO  

 Framing the problem - Challenges 

1. Limited natural resource, According to the best available figures, a total of 62 different types of metals go into the average mobile handset, with what is known as the rare Earth metals playing a particularly important role. Of the 17 rare Earth metals, 16 are included in phones

2. Electronic Waste, In 2016, the worldwide e-waste average was 13.5 pounds per person or 54 pounds for a family of four. But in the U.S. or Canada, the figure was 3.3 times higher. By 2021 there will be a 17 per cent increase, making e-waste the fastest-growing part of the world’s domestic waste stream

Goals and Impact

  1. How can Fairphone leverage ethically sourced materials?

  2. How can Fairphone better connect consumers to the manufacturing process to raise awareness? 

  3. How can Fairphone influence the market and help to change the industry?

  4. How can Fairphone create phones that last longer? 

  5. How can Fairphone improve the social welfare of underrepresented mine and factory workers along the mobile phone industry’s supply chain?

  6. How can Fairphone incorporate the public and partners into its process?


 Social Design Pathway Matrix 

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Fairphone Social Design Pathways: Opportunities 

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Expand into other electronics:

Leverage the materials, manufacturing and modularity of Fairphone for laptops, etc. for greater impact in the industry


Improve company culture through EI and organizational management, as reviews on Glassdoor indicate a stressful and frustrating environment


Optimize the technology and increase market share across countries for larger global impact

Product design:

Further develop the ergonomics and design of the product to compete with the market, as reviews state that it is “noticeably present in the pocket” 

Tech advancement:

Further develop the technology of the product to compete with the market, as reviews state that it is “not flagship” and is old-fashioned