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Telenor introduces mobile phone buyback/recycling for the sake of the environment: New trees for old phones


Now you can return your old phone. Telenor is introducing a buyback/recycling scheme for mobile phones. To thank you for helping, you will get 50 free SMSes and the Red Cross plants 25 trees in Asia, for every phone you hand in.

According to Telenor’s calculations at least four million used mobile phones are lying around collecting dust in Norwegian homes. Presently 82 per cent of Norwegian households have at least one mobile phone extra that they are not using. It is only a dismal 12 per cent of consumers that recycle mobile phones. Since mobile phones are not being returned for recycling, mobile phone manufacturers are forced to extract new materials, in stead of just using the resources already available in used mobile phones. Telenor wants to do something about this and introduces a new mobile recycling scheme.

This lack of recycling suggests that the majority of Norwegians really have no idea what they can do with used mobile phones. Many keep old phones in reserve as a back-up. Norwegians change phones every two years on average. This means that fully usable phones are lying around in Norwegian homes.
“Telenor wants to help consumers dispose of mobile phones in a safe, secure and environmentally friendly manner. Of the phones collected those damaged will be recycled. Those that can be repaired will be sold in Asia which is a well-functioning market for used goods. Proceeds from the sales will be given to the Red Cross. This gives the mobile phone a ”safe death“ or a longer life-span in other markets,” says Ragnar Kårhus, head of Telenor in Norway.

One mobile gives 25 trees
For every mobile phone received in the new recycling scheme, the Red Cross receives financial support to plant 25 trees in Asia. If Telenor reaches its goal of collecting 70,000 mobile phones, users of the scheme would in effect contribute to planting an unbelievable 1.8 million trees in 2009. The trees are being planted as a preventive environmental measure to reduce the danger of soil erosion and give a more sustainable environment.

“For every tree the Red Cross plants in vulnerable areas we contribute to preventing extreme weather conditions and climatic damage. We are strengthening the resistance of the local community to disasters such as cyclones, floods and heavy downpours. At the same time it is an excellent initiative for recycling mobile phones. In this way the collaboration with Telenor is good for the environment in Norway and the local communities we support,” says Sven Mollekleiv, president of the Red Cross in Norway.

Lack of knowledge leads to increased emissions
Previous research indicates that half of the population is not aware that mobile phones can in fact be recycled. This lack of knowledge contributes to emissions being unnecessarily high and also shows there is great need for more information about recycling and re-use. Calculations show that if each of the world’s three billion mobile users returns one mobile phone, an astronomical 270,000 tonne in raw materials will be saved each year, the results being a reduction of emissions equalling the removal of 4 million cars from the roads.

“We encourage everyone to use the scheme rather than let old phones lie around in drawers. Telenor plans to introduce this scheme in more of the markets we operate in. Telenor in Sweden and Pakistan will also introduce this initiative in 2009,” says Kårhus.

“Mobile telephones contain substances that pose a risk to health and the environment. It is therefore vital we return old mobile phones so they can be properly disposed of. In this way we can help prevent environmental toxins polluting the environment. All retailers of electronic and electrical goods must accept old products free of charge. ”We welcome the initiative from Telenor and others to increase the number of mobile phones and other small electronic products that are returned for proper disposal" says Ellen Hambro, Director General at the Norwegian Pollution Control Authority.

New return system
To make returning used phones simple Telenor together with Telekiosken and Telehuset has developed its own return system which is installed in stores throughout Norway. You can also order a postage paid envelope on, into which you put the used phone and send it off by post. Mobile phones that can be repaired will be re-used in Asia. This gives the phones a longer life-span. Those damaged will be recycled. By recycling 90 per cent of materials are re-used while the other 10 per cent goes to energy recycling. Materials contained in the phone can be used to build roads, in data chips and to manufacture new mobile phones.

The SIM card is destroyed
To secure personal protection, all data on the phone is deleted at Greener Solutions in UK, where the phones are sorted for re-use and recycling. SIM and memory cards remaining in the phones are destroyed.


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