The world has finite resources and raw materials to supply us with. People are using these resources and degrading our environments faster than the planet can recover them. This threatens the promise of progress for future generations. This is why ensuring environmental sustainability is one of the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals.
Increasing consumption of cellular phones is an issue. In a year, more than one billion new handsets are produced in the world. This consumes resources and increases e-waste, especially if we do not take proper actions. This is why Nokia has taken the initiative to produce ALL their mobile phones from materials that can be recovered and reused as materials or to generate energy in the recycling process.
About 80% of the materials in a Nokia phone can be recycled and used to make new objects (such as a traffic cone, or a musical instrument) and the remaining 20% can be used to produce energy. That means nothing needs to go to landfill.
Palladium, gold, silver & copper can be recovered
For every one million phones recycled, they can recover nearly 15kg of palladium, 35kg of gold, 350kg of silver, and 16 tons of copper. By recovering and reusing these materials, it is possible to avoid the energy and environmental costs associated with the extracting, processing and production of new materials.
Three billion people don’t yet have mobile phones. This is a critical opportunity for Nokia. Yet an increase of the amount of products sold is also a key concern as “e-waste” from used devices continues to increase. Mobile phones contain potentially hazardous materials, which can leak out into the environment in improper recycling practices, such as landfill or open air burning. Combined with a finite supply of raw materials available for producing new phones, the end life of mobile devices is a major issue that impacts across our industry.
Nokia’s challenge is to make recycling of phones easy and desirable, for all consumers. They aim to help create a recycling culture in every country they operate in. This they want to achieve by equipping all consumers with the awareness and ability to recycle their phones. Nokia knows from experience that developing a solid foundation which supports a wider set of recycling behaviors will result in more mobile phone recycling. It can also contribute to more sustainable lifestyles.
6000 recycling collection points in 100 countries
Nokia’s success on take-back and recycling is measured in three ways:
- number of countries covered;
- number of people reached with their recycling message in dedicated campaigns; and
- weight of mobile devices (and accessories) recycled.
Nokia first offered take-back for mobile devices in the 1990s. Today, they operate the industry’s largest voluntary recycling scheme for used mobile devices and accessories and offer over 6,000 collection points for recycling used mobile devices and accessories in close to 100 countries. 415 tons of e-waste were collected around the world through Nokia managed collection. This represents an increase of 10% compared to the previous year. And they reached tens of millions of consumers through media impressions from their campaigns.
Recycling culture from Uganda to India
This work is having a positive effect. Slowly, but steadily they are seeing the development of a recycling culture, from Uganda to India. A combination of increased awareness, better infrastructure, and convenience for the consumer is leading to gradual increases in collection volumes.
Their global study in 2008 showed that less than 3% of consumers were recycling their mobile devices. In 2011, that number has increased to 9%. Nokia is continuously studying the most effective ways for consumers to recycle their phones. Their focus is on learning from how they motivate people to act, so that they can put their best practices to global use.
In many parts of the world, recycling in general is either a new and unfamiliar concept or the infrastructure is not readily available for consumers. Nokia uses different types of incentives to introduce recycling and make it desirable, including partnering with NGO s, making donations and giveaways, and offering access to events.
Uganda: 459 old phones in 2 days
You may think that the environment is mostly a concern in developed countries. On the contrary, our research indicates that generally it’s the developing markets who are more concerned about environmental problems, and excited about green initiatives, products and eco services.
In Uganda their stakeholders were skeptical before the first take-back and recycling program was launched there in 2010. Awareness of sustainability and the role consumers can play is low across the country, and the prevailing belief was that Uganda wasn’t ready for this initiative.
The results speak for themselves. In just two days, with only one collection point, they received 459 old phones, 254 chargers and 239 batteries. Many people had heard about illegal e-waste dumping practices in Africa, and are more than willing to take action on the issue if they know what to do and where.
You can help take 6 million cars off the streets
If you have an old broken-down phone that is beyond repair, do not throw it away! That old phone still contains valuable materials, such as plastics and metals , that can be recovered to create new objects. So please bring your old phone back to Nokia for responsible recycling.
If the around 4.6 billion people using mobile phones recycled at least one of their unwanted devices this could save 370,000 tons of raw material and reduce greenhouse gases to the same extent as taking 6 million cars off the streets.
To find your nearest Nokia recycling point, please go to: www.nokia.com/recycling
All you need to do is type in the area where you live, tick “Recycling point” and “Nokia Care”, and click on Find to get the list of places that will accept old phones for recycling.
For more information, please contact Elisabeth Tanguy, Nokia Senior Sustainability Manager for the Middle East and Africa, at firstname.lastname@example.org