Electronics Waste: Recycling of Mobile Phones
Post-Consumer Waste Recycling and Optimal Production
The first recycling campaign was arranged in the Uchumi supermarket in Kampala, Uganda
for two days. During those two days 459 old phones, 254 chargers and 239 batteries, in total
of almost thousand items, were collected and good feedback was received: “Recycling
makes a lot of sense”. Consumers in Uganda see every day the problems created by the
illegal dumping of electronic waste in their country, and they are ready to take action. One
of the success factors of the campaign were the radio ads which Nokia ran on several radio
stations to encourage people to recycle. Radio is a powerful medium in Uganda, and many
people heard the message and took action. Another success factor was the fact that Nokia
gave small gifts (for example, a bag made out of recycled material) to people who brought
handsets back for recycling. And everyone also got the chance to enter a raffle, with the
chance to win a Nokia N8 mobile phone. The short campaign in Kampala was a small, but
successful step, as it is noted that creating awareness and changing people’s behavior
towards the environment takes time. In addition, permanent collection points have been set
up at the Nokia repair centers in Kampala, with recycling bins for people to drop of their
unwanted phones and accessories.
In 2010 Nokia introduced new recycling programs in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Lebanon,
Uganda, Sri Lanka, Uruguay, Pakistan, Panama, Belarus, Bosnia, Malta and Ukraine in
order to take the first steps in of creating the recycling culture. (Nokia, 2010)
4.2 Building up an infrastructure
Recycling starts with setting up a collection infrastructure. Although take back vehicles are
in place for all consumers the lack of awareness of these possibilities can offer some real
challenges in making the take back program successful one. Making the consumer aware of
the opportunities to recycle and changing the mindset and habits of the disposal patterns in
society are the true keys to any successful program. Communication together with easy take
back options are seen as means to increase awareness which further leads to increased
recycling of electronics waste.
Commonly used methods to collect mobile phones, batteries and accessories are special
collection bins for phones, mail back envelopes and general e-waste collection locations.
A visible collection method is the take back kiosk or bin, an example of the collection bin is
shown in figure 7. In this approach, challenges are many; location of the bins must be easily
accessible and secure, bins need to be emptied often and finding an effective logistics
solution that is economically viable is difficult in rural environments. People also tend to put
all kinds of rubbish from empty cans and paper cups to apples to the recycling bins.
However, bin collection can be an effective means on company premises –Nokia has
implemented collection bins in all its locations globally. Bins are also effective in
communicating the recycling message.
For a consumer, one of the easiest ways to recycle is to use postal services. This is especially
suitable for small devices such as mobile phones. With a pre-paid postage envelope one can
drop off the phone to the nearest mailbox and it will be sent to recycling. An example of a
recycling envelope is shown in the figure 8. There are several ways to distribute the
envelopes. Prepaid postage and addresses can be downloaded and printed from the
internet, envelopes can be mailed directly to the consumers, distributed in retail shops, or
can be included in the sales package of a new product. Envelopes provide an easy return
Related links:

Your child’s first smartphone
What to do with your old phones across Europe
The First Mobile Phone with a Built-In Camera
Recycle Your Cell Phone
Mobile telephone history
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