Only 3% of consumers recycle mobile phones

James Middleton

July 8, 2008

2 Min Read
Only 3% of consumers recycle mobile phones

Only 3 per cent of consumers worldwide recycle their old mobile phones, according to a study published by Nokia on Tuesday.

The world’s biggest handset vendor also revealed that three quarters of mobile phone owners don’t even think about recycling their devices and nearly half are unaware that it is even possible to do so.

According to the survey, which 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, the vast majority of old handsets end up in a drawer somewhere.

Nokia found that consumers around the world have owned an average of five phones in their lifetime, yet only 4 per cent of these devices end up in a landfill. The vast majority, 44 per cent, are simply kept at home and never used, while a quarter are passed on to friends or family, and 16 per cent are sold on.

Markus Terho, director of environmental affairs at Nokia said, “It is clear from this survey that when mobile devices finally reach the end of their lives that very few of them are recycled. Many people are simply unaware that these old and unused mobiles lying around in drawers can be recycled or how to do this.”

Terho believes that if each of the 3 billion mobile phone owners worldwide recycled just one unused device, it could save 240,000 tonnes of raw materials and reduce greenhouse gases by the same effect as taking 4 million cars off the road.

Nokia claims that between 65 to 80 per cent of any of its devices 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.

But awareness is still relatively low, particularly in emerging markets. Globally, half of those surveyed didn’t know phones could be recycled, with awareness lowest in India at 17 per cent and Indonesia at 29 per cent, and highest in the UK at 80 per cent and 66 per cent in Finland and Sweden.

Nokia has collection points for unwanted mobile devices in 85 countries around the world, with drop off points at Nokia stores Care Centres.

About the Author(s)

James Middleton

James Middleton is managing editor of | Follow him @telecomsjames

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