Overview of handset recycling schemes

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					               Overview of handset recycling schemes
Jack Rowley, PhD.,
Director Environment
GSM Association HQ
Version: 15 February 2004

Table of Contents

1.       INTRODUCTION ....................................................................................................................................... 2

2.       HANDSET RECYCLING SCHEMES ...................................................................................................... 2
     2.1.    MOBILE PHONE INDUSTRY OPERATED RECYCLING SCHEMES .............................................................. 2
        Australia: The AMTA Scheme ....................................................................................................................... 2
     2.2.    RECYCLING SCHEMES OPERATED BY CHARITIES .................................................................................. 3
        United Kingdom: Oxfam bRing bRing scheme .............................................................................................. 3
3.       HANDSET REUSE SCHEMES ................................................................................................................. 4

4.       SOME POINTS TO CONSIDER IN THE ESTABLISHMENT OF SCHEMES .................................. 4


6.       ANNEX: CHECKLIST EVALUATION OF RECYCLING/RE-USE SCHEMES ............................... 8

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1. Introduction
Reuse and recycling of handset are two very different approaches.
  Reuse:            Used handsets are collected, refurbished where necessary and
     then redistributed either to deserving groups in the local community or
     forwarded to other markets as a source of low cost handsets.
     Recycling: The approach is essentially to dismantle the handset to recover useful
       materials for use in other products and dispose of those parts that are not
       recoverable in the least environmentally damaging way.
The information contained in this document was mostly compiled in 2001 and 2002
and has not been updated to reflect recent developments.
2. Handset Recycling Schemes
In this section some of the basics of the recycling process are outlined and examples
of some handset schemes are described.
The recycling process is usually a combination of mechanical disassembly and
sorting followed by incineration of those components that can't be separated. The
incineration process may allow some constituent materials, especially metals, to be
recovered or it may seek to recover energy from bring the materials of the phone. It is
important that the temperatures and filtration are appropriate to minimise the creation
and emission of toxic by-products.
Two basic models for recycling schemes are currently being operated: mobile
industry operated schemes and third-party (charity) schemes. Examples of each type
are discussed in the next sections.
      2.1.      Mobile Phone Industry Operated Recycling Schemes
                There are several examples of industry co-ordinated recycling schemes
                already in place around the world. Some are specific to the cellular
                industry while others are part of a larger effort to recycle consumer
                electrical and electronic devices. By way of example, see details of the
                Australian Mobile and Telecommunications Association (AMTA) scheme.
                Australia: The AMTA Scheme1
                   AMTA re-launched a voluntary handset recycling scheme initiative in
                   2001 following an initial trial of battery recycling in one state in early
                   1999. The scheme aims to ensure that the potentially toxic components
                   in mobile phones, their batteries and accessories are recycled and
                   therefore do not end up in landfill. The recycling procedure is highly
                   efficient, has high productivity and provides a complete breakdown of
                   chemical components to produce marketable commodities such as
                   nickel, used in the production of stainless steel; cadmium, used for new
                   batteries; and plastics, used in furniture. While the trial program
                   included mobile batteries only, the scheme has been extended to

    See http://www.amta.org.au/recycle/index.htm.

                                                                                         Page 2 of 8
                  include mobile handsets and accessories such as hands-free kits and
                  car chargers.
                  The program is funded by a levy of approximately AU$0.40 on the sale
                  of new mobile handsets from participating manufacturers and carriers.
                  AMTA collects the fees and manages the scheme on behalf of its
                  MRI Pty Ltd is engaged by AMTA to collect and manage the recycling
                  process of mobile phones, batteries and their accessories. Societe
                  Nouvelle D’Affinage Des Métaux (SNAM - France2) currently manages
                  the specialist smelting procedure that is the basis of the recycling
                  process for nickel cadmium and nickel metal hydride batteries. This
                  recycling process is suitable for all phones and batteries, including the
                  newer Lithium Ion and Nickel-Metal Hydride types. The recycling
                  process is also successful in preventing the reformation of
                  environmentally damaging compounds such as dioxins and furans in
                  the exhaust gas stream. Mobile phone handsets and accessories are
                  currently stored until the completion of a planned MRI processing facility
                  that will ensure that close to 100 per cent of the components in these
                  items are recycled.
                  Consumers can drop off handsets, batteries and accessories at a large
                  number of retail collection points. Since the program's initial NSW trial
                  and national launch in 1999, approximately 30 tonnes of mobile phones,
                  batteries and accessories have been collected for recycling in Australia.
              The Australia scheme is an interesting model for a mobile communications
              only recycling scheme, however, a potential criticism is that it does not
              include a recovery/reuse element. Despite a very successful pilot phase
              and strong commitment from the industry in a society that is very aware of
              environmental issues, the AMTA scheme has struggled for public visibility.
              The recent re-launch of the scheme included a partnership with Planet
              Ark3 to increase its profile.
    2.2.      Recycling Schemes Operated by Charities
              A relatively recent development but one that has been quickly adopted is
              recycling schemes operated for charitable fund raising purposes. These
              may be collections for a local organisation, e.g. a hospital or operated by a
              national charity. The charity passes the collected phones on to a
              professional re-use/recycling company that in turn pays the charity a
              bounty for each handset collected. The UK based charity Oxfam was one
              of the first large charities to operate such a scheme.
              United Kingdom: Oxfam bRing bRing scheme
                  Oxfam has partnered with Isis Telecommunications to obtain funding for
                  its charitable activities through the collection of mobile phones and
                  accessories via Oxfam shops. Oxfam passes the phones on to Isis
                  Telecommunications who then pay Oxfam a collection fee. Depending
  See http://www.snam.com/.
  Planet Ark is an Australian not-for-profit organisation set up in june 1991 by the tennis player Pat Cash and
international charity campaigner Jon Dee back in June 1991, see http://www.planetark.com/.

                                                                                                             Page 3 of 8
                   on the type and age of the recovered equipment, Isis
                   Telecommunications has three options:
                   -       If the handset is reasonably current or has a good reputation in
                           the past, it may be used as a loan phone when a handset is
                           being serviced.
                   -       If it is a slightly older handset, it is exported to countries where
                           there is still a demand.
                   If the handsets do not fall into either of these categories, they are
                   dismantled for recycling purposes. Each handset collected can be worth
                   up to about UK£5.00 (€6.35) to Oxfam. The scheme has been extended
                   to operate via retail outlets in Ireland and a partnership arrangement
                   with O2 established to expand the collection points4.
               Increasing numbers of these schemes are being set-up in the UK, the
               USA and elsewhere. Sometimes the collection period is limited as part of a
               targeted fund raising initiative. While many of these schemes are too small
               or locally focussed to provide an opportunity for operator involvement,
               partnerships with national charities may be worth investigating.
3. Handset Reuse Schemes
A number of organisations are operating reuse schemes where handsets are
refurbished and provided to targeted social groups or supplied to developing markets
as low cost handsets. While reuse can provide greater environmental benefits, it
does raise other issues such as increased fraud potential, 'grey market' phones and
the ability of service infrastructure, especially in developing countries, to support the
phones. It also leaves open the question of the responsibility for the ultimate
recycling/disposal of the handset.
4. Some Points to Consider in the Establishment of Schemes
It is clear from the brief information set out in this document that there are many
models to chose from in considering involvement in re-use or recycling schemes. A
checklist approach to evaluating re-use/recycling schemes is presented in an annex.
Giving the complexity of issues surrounding these schemes, not all factors could be
included in the checklist. Organisations are encouraged to seek further expert
technical, regulatory and legal advice.

    See http://www.oxfam.ie/upcoming_events/bringbring2.html.

                                                                                             Page 4 of 8
5. Annex: Worldwide summary of some existing recycling schemes
The following table summarises key features of recycling schemes operating in 19 countries. While the majority are industry
sponsored, an increasing number of independent schemes are being established that also act as a source of funds for charities.

Country     Description                                                   Handset   Battery   Further information
Australia   The Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association           Yes       Yes      http://www.amta.org.au/recycle/index.htm
            (AMTA) voluntarily developed the Mobile Phone Industry
            Recycling Program following an initial NSW trial of battery
            recycling in early 1999. The program is funded by a levy of
            approximately AU$0.40 on the sale of new mobile handsets
            from participating manufacturers and carriers.
Canada      Charge Up To Recycle! Program linked with the RBRC                       Yes      http://rbrc.org/
            organisation in the USA.
China       A Nokia TakeBack scheme is operating (see Singapore)           Yes       Yes      http://www.nokia.com/aboutnokia/env_cases/recycling_AP.html
Finland     Nokia phones can be returned to service centres.               Yes       Yes      http://www.nokia.com/aboutnokia/environment/endoflife_practices.html
Germany     XS Tronix launched a scheme based around collection points     Yes       Yes      http://www.xstronix.com/english.htm
            and envelopes
            Nokia is running a battery takeback scheme                      ?        Yes      http://www.nokia.com/aboutnokia/env_cases/battery_takeback.html
Hong Kong     The Hong Kong government proposed an industry funded        Yes       Yes      http://www.info.gov.hk/wrc/newsltr/issue5/7/idx-7.htm
               recycling scheme in 2001. The scheme would be paid for
               out of a percentage of sales from mobile phone retailers
               and network operators. It has been estimated the fund
               would need at most $ 1 million a year.
             A Nokia TakeBack scheme is operating (see Singapore)                            http://www.nokia.com/aboutnokia/env_cases/recycling_AP.html
India       A Nokia TakeBack scheme is operating (see Singapore)           Yes       Yes      http://www.nokia.com/aboutnokia/env_cases/recycling_AP.html
Indonesia   A Nokia TakeBack scheme is operating (see Singapore)           Yes       Yes      http://www.nokia.com/aboutnokia/env_cases/recycling_AP.html
Ireland      Eircell (now Vodafone) ran a pilot recycling scheme          Yes       Yes
               during 2001 associated with closure of the analogue
               mobile phone system.
             Digifone was recently involved in the launch of the                             http://www.oxfam.org.uk/donate/recycle.html
               Oxfam Bring Ring appeal (see UK) in Ireland.
             Meteor launched an in-store recycling scheme in July                            http://www.meteor.ie/about/press.html
             Eurosource Europe has launched a web based scheme                               http://www.recyclingappeal.com/ireland/index.htm
               using Freepost envelopes.

                                                                                                                                                       Page 5 of 8
Country       Description                                                        Handset   Battery   Further information
Japan         DoCoMo is operating a recycling scheme using its retail             Yes       Yes      http://www.nttdocomo.co.jp/corporate/eco/report/english/implemen/index_02.ht
              outlets act as collection points. In the fiscal year ended March                       ml
              31, 2001, DoCoMo collected a total of approximately 5.6
              million handsets, 4.4 million batteries, and 500,000 units of
              chargers and other peripherals. The recycling rate for handsets
              and other products collected was virtually 100%.
Malaysia      A Nokia TakeBack scheme is operating (see Singapore)                Yes       Yes      http://www.nokia.com/aboutnokia/env_cases/recycling_AP.html
New            A Nokia TakeBack scheme is operating (see Singapore)              Yes       Yes      http://www.nokia.com/aboutnokia/env_cases/recycling_AP.html
Zealand        Telecom New Zealand run recycling scheme
Singapore     Citiraya Industries, a Singaporean waste recycling company,         Yes       Yes      http://www.nokia.com/aboutnokia/env_cases/recycling_AP.html
              has been extracting precious metals such as gold and silver                            http://www.citiraya.com/
              from old computers and mobile phones according to a 2001
              report in the Straits Times.
              Nokia has signed a deal with Citiraya Industries to recycle the
              products collected under its TakeBack scheme.
Spain         Spain is trying to reach a target of recycling 100 tonnes of        Yes?      Yes?     http://perc.ca/PEN/2001-04/briefs.html
              mobile phones by the end of 2002. In one initiative they have
              a "muncher bus" visiting every large town in Spain, asking the
              public to take unwanted phones to it.
Sweden        In Sweden, Ericsson is part of an inter-industry system for         Yes       Yes      http://www.ericsson.com/sustainability/at_the_end.shtml
              recycling mobile telephones. (May be related to ECTEL pilot
              - see UK)
Switzerland   The program is run by the Swiss Association of Information,         Yes       Yes      http://www.swico.ch/3d_recycling/recyd_index.html
              Communication and Organisation Technology (SWICO) and                                  http://www.ericsson.com/sustainability/at_the_end.shtml
              covers a range of products including phones. A fee of
              US$0.16 is built into the sale price of mobile phone sto cover
              the costs of recycling. The levy is low because so few of the
              phone sold are being recovered.
Taiwan        A Nokia TakeBack scheme is operating (see Singapore)                Yes       Yes      http://www.nokia.com/aboutnokia/env_cases/recycling_AP.html
Thailand      A Nokia TakeBack scheme is operating (see Singapore)                Yes       Yes      http://www.nokia.com/aboutnokia/env_cases/recycling_AP.html

                                                                                                                                                               Page 6 of 8
Country          Description                                                    Handset   Battery   Further information
United               The industry scheme is called MobileTakeBack - UK was      Yes       Yes      http://www.mobiletakeback.co.uk/
Kingdom               re-launched in May 1999. It grew from a 1997 pilot
(UK)                  project carried out by the European Trade Organisaztion
                      for the Telecommunication and Professional Electronics                        http://www.oxfam.org.uk/donate/recycle.html
                      Industry (ECTEL5) in Sweden and the UK.                                       http://www.isistelecom.com/bringbring.shtml
                  Recently, various charity groups have established a                              http://www.cellular-rec.co.uk/
                      number of collection schemes that provide a revenue                           http://www.leics.gov.uk/p_t/waste_management/sites.htm
                      source. An example is that of Oxfam with each phone                           http://www.tesco.com/everylittlehelps/dobEnvironmentDetail.htm - r
                      worth on average £5 to the organisation.
                  Tesco (supermarket chain) has launched a recycling                               http://www.recyclingappeal.com/uk/index.htm
                      scheme with XS Tronix (see Germany)
                  Eurosource Europe has launched a web based scheme
                      using Freepost envelopes.
United           The CTIA supports several programs using donated phones         Yes       Yes      http://www.wirelessfoundation.org/index.htm
States of        via its Wireless Foundation. These include:                                        http://www.donateaphone.com/
America           CALL to Protect (Domestic violence victims)                                      http://www.wirelessfoundation.org/12give/
(USA)             ClassLink (supporting schools)
                  Communities on Phone Patrol (citizen watch)
                  Return Outreach Initiative (donations)
                  PhoneRaising (fund raising)

                 Other recycling/charity schemes are run by:
                  Collective Good                                                                  http://www.collectivegood.com/
                  Verizon Wireless HopeLine
                    Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation

                 Consumers can take back their old mobile phones and other
                 electronic devices to some Best Buy stores and will have to
                 pay a handling fee likely to range from US $10-$25,
                 depending on the item returned. Some states and local
                 municipalities are also running similar programs.

    Now part of EICTA - European Information, Communications and Consumer Electronics Technology Industry Association, see http://www.eicta.org/.

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6. Annex: Checklist Evaluation of Recycling/Re-use Schemes
Issue To Consider                                                                     Yes/No
Will the scheme involve a re-use aspect?                                                 /
Will handsets be redistributed locally for social benefit purposes?                      /
       Have you decided how recipients will be selected?                                 /
       Will free airtime be provided?                                                    /
       Will the handsets be pre-programmed with selected numbers?                        /
       Will maintenance support be provided?                                             /
Do you want an environmental or charity group to endorse the scheme?                     /
       Does this involve a financial contribution to the group or charity?               /
Will the scheme be materials recycling only?                                             /
What type of recycling process will be used?
       Will the handset be dismantled for useful parts                                     /
       Will the handset be incinerated without dismantling?                                /
       How will the resulting materials be re-used?                                        /
       Is the 'energy' component of the incineration recovered?                            /
       Are any toxic by-products contained?                                                /
Have possible issues with perceived toxic waste transport been resolved?                   /
Will the materials be transported overseas for reprocessing?                               /
       Are there any restrictions on export of these materials?                            /
How will the scheme be funded?
       Industry or consumer levy?                                                          /
       Consumer payment etc in order to return the handset, etc?                           /
       Do you know who collects and manages the levy?                                      /
       Will the scheme be financially self-sustaining?                                     /
How will participation in the scheme be encouraged?
       Discount voucher on return of handset/battery/etc?                                  /
       Discount voucher when handset is exchanged for an upgrade?                          /
       A deposit system, i.e. cash premium when devices returned?                          /
What type of collection scheme will be used?
       Maintenance facilities including product returns?                                   /
       Operator retail outlets?                                                            /
       Third-party retail outlets?                                                         /
       Charity or other third-party?                                                       /
Will handsets/accessories from all suppliers be accepted?                                  /
Will accessories be accepted within the scheme?                                            /
Will batteries be accepted within the scheme?                                              /
       Will rechargeable batteries from other devices (e.g. laptops) be accepted?          /
       Are other trade associations or non-cellular companies involved?                    /
       Is there a recycling scheme by a related industry that could be accessed?           /
Have staff or retail outlets been provided with training?                                  /
Have staff or retail outlets been provided with promotional materials?                     /
Will local regulatory or environmental authorities support the scheme?                     /
       Will they provide seed funding for a pilot feasibility study?                       /

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