Nokia: Only 3% of Cell Phones Get Recycled

Posted by: Olga Kharif on July 8, 2008

Clearly, handset makers and carriers aren’t doing enough to encourage cell-phone recycling. World’s largest cell-phone maker, Nokia, just released results of a survey that suggests that only 3% of people have ever recycled their old handsets. After years of industry efforts, “three out of every four people added that they don’t even think about recycling their devices and nearly half were unaware that it is even possible to do so,” according to the survey. Nokia interviewed 6,500 people in 13 countries, including the U.S.

Interestingly, people aren’t throwing the phones away, either. While the survey respondents owned, on average, some five phones, only 4% of those are being thrown into the landfill. The majority, 44%, are simply sitting at home, in a drawer. There’s one area of success, though: The survey shows that monetary incentives offered by recyclers like CollectiveGood do work: Some 16% of people try to sell their used devices, particularly in emerging markets.

Clearly, carriers and handset makers have a long way to go on increasing wireless users’ awareness of recycling. The pay-off for these companies and the environment could be huge. “If each of the three 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,” according to Nokia.

Reader Comments

Jana Williams

July 10, 2008 3:53 PM

I have cell phones I would recycle if I knew where they could be recycled. I heard there is one that benefits US soldiers but do not know any more.

sandrine perradin

July 23, 2008 12:15 PM

Several companies either offer free recycling (like www.collectivegood.com), or pay you to recycle the old phones, like www.greenphone.com). Both offer free postage, my check from GreenPhone only took two weeks..

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Bloomberg Businessweek writers Peter Burrows, Cliff Edwards, Olga Kharif, Aaron Ricadela, and Douglas MacMillan, dig behind the headlines to analyze what’s really happening throughout the world of technology. Tech Beat covers everything from tech bellwethers like Apple, Google, and Intel and emerging new leaders such as Facebook to new technologies, trends, and controversies.

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