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Nokia urges consumers to recycle old phones

Posted: 14 Jul 2008 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:old mobile phones? recycling old cellphones? consumers unaware of recycling?

Only 3 percent of people recycle their mobile phones despite the fact that most have old devices lying around at home that they no longer want, according to a global consumer survey released by Nokia. Three out of every four people added that they don't consider recycling their devices and nearly half were unaware that it is possible to do.

The survey is based on interviews with 6,500 people in 13 countries including Finland, Germany, Italy, Russia, Sweden, United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates, United States, Nigeria, India, China, Indonesia and Brazil. It was conducted to help Nokia find out more about consumers' attitudes and behaviors towards recycling, and inform the company's take-back programs and efforts to increase recycling rates of unused mobile devices.

"It is clear from this survey that when mobile devices finally reach the end of their lives that very few of them are recycled," said Markus Terho, director of environmental affairs, markets, at Nokia. "Many people are simply unaware that these old and unused mobiles lying around in drawers can be recycled or how to do this. Nokia is working hard to make it easier, providing more information and expanding our global take-back programs." He added, "If each of the 3 billion people globally owning mobiles brought back just one unused device we could save 240,000 tons of raw materials and reduce greenhouse gases to the same effect as taking 4 million cars off the road. By working together, small individual actions could add up to make a big difference."

'Unaware' of recycling
Despite the fact that people on average have each owned around five phones, very few are being recycled once they are no longer used. Only 3 percent said they had recycled their old phone. Yet very few old devices, 4 percent, are being thrown into landfill. Instead, the majority, 44 percent, are simply being kept at homes never used. Others are giving their mobiles another life in different ways, one quarter are passing on their old phones to friends or family, and 16 percent of people are selling their used devices particularly in emerging markets.

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. This was consistent across many different countries with 88 percent of people in Indonesia not considering recycling unwanted devices, 84 percent in India, and 78 percent of people in Brazil, Sweden, Germany and Finland.

One of the main reasons why so few people recycle their mobile phones is because they simply don't know that it is possible, revealed the survey. Up to 80 percent of any Nokia device is recyclable and precious materials within it can be reused to help make new products such as kitchen kettles, park benches, dental fillings or even saxophones and other metal musical instruments. Globally, half of those surveyed didn't know phones could be recycled like this, with awareness lowest in India at 17 percent and Indonesia at 29 percent, and highest in the U.K. at 80 percent and 66 percent in Finland and Sweden.

Green efforts
"Using the best recycling technology nothing is wasted," noted Terho. "Between 65-80 percent of a Nokia device can be recycled. Plastics that can't be recycled are burnt to provide energy for the recycling process, and other materials are ground up into chips and used as construction materials or for building roads. In this way nothing has to go to landfill."

Many people interviewed for the survey, even if they were aware that a device could be recycled, did not know how to go about doing this. Two thirds said they did not know how to recycle an unwanted device and 71 percent were unaware of where to do this.

Nokia has collection points for unwanted mobile devices in 85 countries around the world. People can drop off their old devices at Nokia stores and almost 5,000 Nokia Care Centers.

Responding to the survey findings, Nokia is developing a series of campaigns and activities to give people more information on why, how and where to recycle their old and unwanted devices, chargers and mobile accessories. The company is also expanding its global take-back program by adding more collection bins and promoting these in store to raise greater awareness.

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