Mobiles catch the green bug

September 4, 2004
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, NAIROBI, September 2 – Only three percent of all mobile phone handsets worldwide are recycled, according to a global consumer survey released by Nokia. 

Three out of every four people interviewed said that they don’t even think about recycling their devices and nearly half were unaware that it was even possible to do so.  

The survey was based on interviews with 6,500 people in 13 countries including Finland, Germany, Italy, Russia, Sweden, UK, United Arab Emirates, USA, Nigeria, India, China, Indonesia and Brazil. 

Nokia Customer Care Manager for East Africa Nicholas Maina said that though Kenya was not sampled in the survey, the countries selected were a good representation of consumer attitudes towards recycling in general and specifically in relation to mobile devices.  

“The aim of this survey was for us to get a better view of what was happening to unwanted mobile devices,” he said. 

Nokia has set up a number of collection points in the country, where users are encouraged to drop off handsets that are no longer in use. 

The findings highlight that an average mobile user has owned five handsets, but very few of these are recycled.  
Here is the disconnect: Only three percent of unused handsets are recycled, yet just four percent are actually dumped in landfills. 25 percent of consumers are passing on their old phones to friends or family, while 16 percent, especially in emerging markets, are selling their used devices. 

The majority, 44 percent, simply keep their old handsets at home.  

Globally, 74 percent of consumers said they don’t think about recycling their phones, despite the fact that around the same number, 72 percent, think recycling makes a difference to the environment.  

The survey revealed that one of the main reasons why so few people recycle their mobile phones is because they simply don’t know that it is possible to do so.  

In fact, Maina says, up to 80 percent of any Nokia device is recyclable and precious materials within it can be reused to make new products such as kitchen kettles, park benches, dental fillings or even saxophones and other metallic musical instruments.  

Plastics that can’t be recycled are burnt to provide energy for the recycling process, while other materials are ground into chips and used as construction materials or for building roads.  

From collection points in Kenya, the handsets, chargers and other accessories are shipped to recycling plants abroad. Maina said Nokia was investing to expand the network of collection points and making them more visible to consumers.  

In addition, the company would embark on awareness campaigns to encourage consumers on the importance and procedure for recycling unwanted mobile phones and accessories.

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