Mobile industry eyes savings by recycling

Mar 01, 2012 by Hui Min Neo
A Lebanese woman throws her mobile phone into a box for recycling during the launch of a campaign organised by Nokia in Beirut in 2010. More than a billion mobile phones are made every year but fewer than one percent are recycled, experts say, noting that billions of dollars could be saved if consumers go green.

More than a billion mobile phones are made every year but fewer than one percent are recycled, experts say, noting that billions of dollars could be saved if consumers go green.

"Sometimes the size of a phone is deceiving for the of the impact it does to the environment," said vice president of product, Fared Adib.

The value of the materials in each device is also often underestimated.

A typical weighing less than 150 grams contains valuable material such as gold, silver and rare minerals -- highly sought after elements critical in manufacturing.

"Given today's low collection and recycling rates, nearly all of this material is lost," said the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, a research institute.

In Europe alone, 160 million discarded phones result in a loss of about $500 million every year, it said in a report.

Bertrand Villie, who is in charge of at Sony Mobile France, confirmed the trend.

"Very few people bring their mobile phones back, unless they are defective. We have tried to stimulate this, but rates of returns are very low," he said.

Analysts argue that there is a strong economic case for recycling and reuse, not to mention an environmental one.

If the most reusable components such as the camera, display and battery and charger were stripped out, and used in the production of new devices, the costs of remanufacturing low-cost mobile phones could be slashed by 50 percent.

With a 95 percent collection rate for reuse and remanufacturing, the industry could save over $2 billion on material and $160 million on every year in Europe alone.

While some phones are indeed at the end of their and need to be scrapped completely and recycled, many others can be re-used.

A movement is now underway to push for greater re-use.

Sprint Nextel has formed an alliance with three other firms in the industry to get more people to bring their old phones back for refurbishing, so that others who may not be able to afford brand new phones, can reuse them.

"This is an opportunity for a product that is out of reach to some, that costs maybe $400 to $500. We're taking these products and putting them in emerging markets" where technology remains scarce, said Adib.

Besides offering a financial incentive to consumers, the group called Device Renewal Forum is establishing a certification standard for refurbished phones that ensures that only properly functioning devices reenter the market.

"The highest use of is reuse -- to use it until it's functionally obsolete rather than perceptively obsolete," stressed David Edmondson, chief executive of eRecyclingCorps, a founding member of the forum.

Explore further: Making smartphone browsing 20% faster while reducing power consumption by 40%

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

EPA promotes cell phone recycling

Jan 08, 2008

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has teamed up with cell phone makers, service providers, and retailers to promote cell phone recycling.

New Sprint does push-to-talk without Nextel

Sep 27, 2011

(AP) -- Sprint Nextel Corp. will start shutting down the Nextel part of its network in little more than a year. So what are the folks who use Nextel's walkie-talkie-like push-to-talk function going to do?

Sprint to stop selling certain push-to-talk phones

Nov 30, 2009

(AP) -- Sprint Nextel Corp. is giving up on a technology that allows some Sprint-branded phones to use a "push-to-talk" walkie-talkie service similar to what's available on the company's Nextel-branded phones.

Recommended for you

US official: Auto safety agency under review

6 hours ago

Transportation officials are reviewing the "safety culture" of the U.S. agency that oversees auto recalls, a senior Obama administration official said Friday. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has been criticized ...

Out-of-patience investors sell off Amazon

6 hours ago

Amazon has long acted like an ideal customer on its own website: a freewheeling big spender with no worries about balancing a checkbook. Investors confident in founder and CEO Jeff Bezos' invest-and-expand ...

Ebola.com domain sold for big payout

6 hours ago

The owners of the website Ebola.com have scored a big payday with the outbreak of the epidemic, selling the domain for more than $200,000 in cash and stock.

Hacker gets prison for cyberattack stealing $9.4M

11 hours ago

An Estonian man who pleaded guilty to orchestrating a 2008 cyberattack on a credit card processing company that enabled hackers to steal $9.4 million has been sentenced to 11 years in prison by a federal judge in Atlanta.

Magic Leap moves beyond older lines of VR

11 hours ago

Two messages from Magic Leap: Most of us know that a world with dragons and unicorns, elves and fairies is just a better world. The other message: Technology can be mindboggingly awesome. When the two ...

User comments : 0