Mobile phones contain raw materials such as gold, silver, copper and cobalt, but also dangerous toxins. Despite this, they often end up in landfills. The project now wants to take countermeasures.
As part of a major recycling project, Vodafone Germany will adequately dispose of one discarded cell phone from Africa for each cell phone sold to private customers.
With the help of Dutch specialist company Closing the Loop, Vodafone announced on Tuesday that more than one million old appliances will be collected annually, mainly in Nigeria, Ghana and Cameroon, shipped to Europe and recycled there.
Andreas Laukenmann, Managing Director of the Private Customer Division at Vodafone Germany, said the project is a good start to set new standards for the circular economy. “But recycling is not enough. The service life must also be extended. “
According to Vodafone, the devices collected are not electronic scrap originally sourced from Europe, but cell phones used by the people of Africa. The action is financed from recovered raw materials. Local partners such as parishes, municipal companies and repair shops participate in the income.
Safe recycling possible on site
There is no safe recycling capacity in crisis-hit countries, said Joost de Kluijver, CEO and founder of Closing the Loop. That is why scrap is transported to Europe by ship. However, Vodafone will support closing the loops in building recycling infrastructure directly in developing countries. “This will eliminate the need to ship e-waste and create many more jobs in developing countries.”
According to the UN Global E-Waste Monitor 2020 report, electronic waste is the fastest growing source of household waste in the world. In 2019, a record number of 53.6 million tonnes of electro-waste was produced, and by 2030 this number is expected to increase to 74 million tonnes. Mobile phones make up a large part of this. According to the calculations of the digital industry association Bitkom, in Germany alone, there are over 200 million used mobile phones and smartphones in drawers.
Old appliances from Germany have all mobile phone suppliers in mind. For example, Telefónica is working with the environmental organization Nabu on the ‘Mobile phones for bumblebees, bees and others’ campaign. Deutsche Telekom and Vodafone also use revenues from recycling raw materials to finance environmental and social projects. (dpa)