22/06/11

By Raul Sfat, VP Sales of B2X Care Solutions

Our continuing love affair with mobile phones shows no signs of waning - in the first quarter of year alone, sales soared another 20% across the globe. But the pursuit of even smarter phones is producing an ever-growing mountain of unloved, obsolete models.

In Britain over a third of the population don’t know how to recycle their old phones, which collectively are worth close to US$4.5bn. Across Germany 72 million working mobile phones lie dormant in drawers. And on the other side of the Atlantic, there’s over a billion old phones in the USA, with 100 million more added every year.

But we’ve also seen a concurrent growth in the recycling industry, as higher commodity prices have helped provide a much-needed financial incentive to reduce this growing mountain of phones.

The figures for the precious raw materials contained in your mobile phone — a lot of which goes to waste — are startling.

Recycling a mobile phone yields on average 31.63 grams in precious metals. With 50 million unused mobile phones, for example, this could add up to three tons of gold, 30 tons of silver, 1900 tons of copper and 105 tons of tin.

The gold lost by not recycling alone was estimated to amount to between seven and 10 million US dollars in Germany. In the US, this figure rises to an estimated $150 million.

Besides the extraction of precious materials, greenhouse gas emissions can also be reduced. The manufacturing of one mobile handset produces up to 60 kg of CO2.

While B2X is best known as the world leader in providing after sales and warranty services to mobile phone manufacturers and vendors, we're also proud of the environmental component of our business - and believe more needs to be done to highlight the advantages of encouraging companies, retailers and consumers to unlock the value of unwanted mobile phones.

Our unique trade-in program is delivering huge environmental benefits in Europe and has so far recovered more than 500,000 mobile devices across the continent. But much more could be done if businesses woke-up to the benefits of encouraging handset recovery.

In a central part of B2X’s trade-in model, consumers are incentivised to return their mobile devices by receiving cash or vouchers redeemable against future purchases.

For retailers and network operators, this system encourages increases in shop traffic and customer retention at no cost. It also delivers a major opportunity for cross-selling.

So over and above the ‘feel good’ element of doing something positive for the environment, B2X’s scheme gives consumers an incentive and companies a tangible business benefit.

It's generally accepted that businesses and consumers are becoming increasingly more conscious of the environmental impact of their use and disposal of electronic devices.

However, we feel a huge amount could still be done — both to raise awareness of the issues amongst consumers, and help companies understand that being environmentally-friendly isn’t just a part of your corporate social responsibility agenda - it can also boost your bottom-line.

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