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Good for you, good for the planet

Week 16, 2009

For instance, according to a study recently released by moneysupermarket, a UK-based price comparison website, 88% of British adults do not care about the eco friendliness of their mobiles, with people ranking cost (59%), battery life (44%) and durability (33%) as the most important factors when choosing a handset.

Half of the users (49%) said they were not ready to pay more for a handset that would be made from recycled materials. Also, the same study shows that subscribers don’t care about recycling their old handsets: 39% believe there is no environmentally hazardous materials in handsets or admit they have no idea if they do. A mere 12% of respondents said they are interested in eco-friendliness of their handsets.

However, recycling circuits have been set up. In the UK, for instance, moneysupermarket said they would pay an average GBP 25 (EUR 28) for each recycled cell phone. “Mobiles have some harmful parts and materials and if they aren't dealt with appropriately they could have severe consequences on the environment," said James Parker, manager of mobiles and broadband at moneysupermarket.

Also last week “national cell phone recycling week 2009” took place in the USA. It was an initiative jointly set up by cell phone manufacturers, service providers and retailers. As part of the event, program partners across the USA rolled out a series of in-store promotions, contests and giveaways while providing in-store and online recycling opportunities to assist consumers. Until now, only 10% of cell phones are recycled each year, and most Americans do not know where to recycle them. According to the US government, more than 100 million cell phones are discarded annually.

Cell phones and accessories are made from valuable materials such as precious metals, copper, and plastics - all of which require energy to extract and manufacture. Recycling cell phones reduces greenhouse gas emissions and conserves natural resources.

We still have a long way to go to implement efficient recycling policies. As an industry, our role is to encourage such recycling programs, but also to educate customers about recycling.

Thierry Spanjaard

Chief Editor

Smart Insights