Going green: the paper nano-SIM

February 28, 2013
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Paper Nano SIM

Businesses are going green in an attempt to become more environmentally responsible. You read stories about designing green buildings, streamlining operations and even finding alternative energy sources, if only to reduce the carbon footprint. But sometimes it’s in the simple things that we can make a change. Take for example your mobile phone’s SIM card.

Chances are your SIM comes in a credit-card sized package, which you snap off before plugging into your phone. I remember a time when phones took in the entire SIM card (yes, I’m that old), but now it just boils down to the small metallic contacts and the even smaller chips that contain the actual subscriber data. What do we need all that plastic for, you ask? Well, we don’t, really. But carriers and mobile networks just haven’t figured it out yet. Sometimes these come with handy information, such as the PIN unblocking key (PUK), mobile number for your reference, and some carrier-related information. But you don’t really need to have these printed on plastic, right?

Here’s where a product by Chinese company Beijing Big Ben comes in. The country’s biggest mobile provider, China Mobile, has recently switched to using paper-based SIM cards produced by Big Ben. Yes, you read it right: paper. The actual SIM is made of recyclable ABS plastic plus metal (on the contacts and the chip itself). But the holder is made of 100% fiber paper. Beijing Big Ben has gone so far as to tout this feature at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, in the hopes that other telcos will pick it up too.

Read also: Nano-SIM standard decided, ETSI chooses Apple’s 4FF SIM design

The company has been making paper-based SIM cards for five years now, and it says the cost of production is just about the same as using plastic. Of course, some might argue that paper does come with some environmental costs, such as the cutting down of trees, but consider that Big Ben uses fiber paper, which is not made up entirely of wood pulp.

Next time you sign up for a contract or buy a prepaid SIM, you might just be getting a cardboard SIM holder instead of having the entire thing in plastic. That’s one small way of helping save the world.

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