Düsseldorf, Amsterdam In a major recycling project, Vodafone Germany will properly dispose of a discarded mobile phone from Africa for every mobile phone sold to private customers. With the help of the Dutch specialist company Closing the Loop, Vodafone wants to collect more than one million old devices a year, especially in Nigeria, Ghana and Cameroon, transport them to Europe and recycle them there, Vodafone announced on Tuesday.
Andreas Laukenmann, Managing Director of the private customer division at Vodafone Germany, said the project is a good start to establish new standards for the circular economy. “Recycling is not enough. The service life also needs to be extended.“
According to Vodafone, the collected devices are not electronic waste that originally comes from Europe, but mobile phones that were used by people in Africa. The campaign is financed by the recovered raw materials. Local collecting partners such as parishes, municipal institutions or repair shops are involved in the proceeds.
No capacity in Africa for safe recycling
There is no capacity for safe recycling in the affected countries, said Joost de Kluijver, Managing Director and founder of Closing the Loop. Therefore, the scrap is transported to Europe by ships. Vodafone will, however, support Closing the Loop in setting up recycling infrastructures directly in developing countries. “This will eliminate the need to ship electronic waste and create many more jobs in developing countries.“
According to the United Nations Global E-Waste Monitor 2020, electronic waste is the fastest growing source of household waste worldwide. In 2019, a record amount of 53.6 million tons of e-waste was produced, and by 2030 it is expected to increase to 74 million tons. Mobile phones make up a significant proportion of this. According to calculations by the digital industry association Bitkom, there are more than 200 million discarded mobile phones and smartphones in the drawers in Germany alone.
The old devices from Germany have all mobile phone providers in their sights. For example, Telefónica is cooperating with the environmental protection organization Nabu in the campaign “Mobile phones for bumblebees, bees and Co.”. Deutsche Telekom and Vodafone also finance environmental protection and social projects with the proceeds from the recycling of recycled raw materials.