A group of seven European governments signed a treaty designed to improve the environmental credentials of devices including smartphones and laptop PCs, targeting change through creation of a united front in procurement requirements.

The International Circular and Fair ICT Pact was signed by The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Norway, the UK, Austria and Switzerland with other nations including Canada in talks to join the group.

In addition to governments, the pledge is open to any organisation procuring IT and communications devices.

By backing the initiative, the countries committed to help create a network of institutional device buyers with consistent values around sustainability. This covers a range of aspects including use of raw materials, recycling and worker rights in the manufacture process.

The organisation behind the partnership (which has the same name as the pact) noted it aimed to “create a network of procurers all contributing to a large collective demand for circular and fair laptops and smartphones”.

It added by “harmonising demand” for more sustainable products, it hopes to enable a “constructive high-level dialogue” between institutional buyers and the ICT market.

“Individually we are too small to affect the global market,” it noted. “Only if we join forces as procurers can we bring enough collective demand to the table to help the industry change its game. In time this could also make sustainable phones and laptops more readily available to consumers.”

The move is the latest initiative to improve the sustainability credentials of the device market and cut electronic waste.