Thursday, December 18, 2008

Nokia to Recycle Handsets in Green Campaign

Mobile phone manufacturer Nokia will reward people who return old phones for recycling with tree seedlings to boost conservation efforts.

Since the campaign started, the handset manufacturer has only been able to collect 100 handsets against a target of 6,000 units needed to start its recycling process.

Mobile penetration in the country stands at 33 per cent with over 14 million subscribers, most of whom have owned more than one handset .

Factor competition

“Many people are simply unaware that these old and unused mobiles can be recycled. We are making it easier for the consumers to protect the environment,” said Mr Nick Maina, Nokia customer care manager for East Africa. The company is also facing competition from the informal sector operators who buy the dead phones at Sh500 for spare parts.

The Nokia campaign comes amidst growing concern over the impact of electronic waste on health and environment. According to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and the Gartner consultancy, there will be almost four billion mobile telephones in use by the end of this year, while the number of personal computers has already passed the billion mark.

The good news behind these figures is that the digital divide is shrinking, 58 per cent of computers are in developed countries but, this share is expected to drop to 30 per cent by 2014 when the total number of personal computers should reach two billion.

But there is another side to the coin: this year, almost 180 million computers have been replaced by new machines, and an estimated 35 million computers dumped, despite the toxic substances they contain.

EU regulation

Other than offering the incentive Nokia intends to increase its drop off point’s country wide. Currently, the company has only 60 drop off points which it says is not sufficient.

After collecting the old or unused phones the company will then take them to Europe for recycling. This is because there are no companies that meet the set standards for recycling the mobile parts regionally.

Part of the regulations by the European Union is that the recycling companies are not required to use the parts to make refurbished handsets.