Only 3% of people recycle their mobile phones despite the fact that most have old devices lying around that they no longer want, according to a global consumer survey released by Nokia. Three out of every four people added that they don’t even think about recycling their devices and nearly half were unaware that it is even possible to do so.
The survey is based on interviews with 6,500 people in 13 countries including the UAE, Finland, Germany, Italy, Russia, Sweden, UK, USA, Nigeria, India, China, Indonesia and Brazil. It was conducted to help Nokia find out more about consumers’ attitudes and behaviors towards recycling, and inform the company’s take-back programs and efforts to increase recycling rates of unused mobile devices.
In the UAE, around 65% of people said that when thinking of recycling, they do not think about recycling their old and unwanted mobile phones, with the majority keeping them lying around at home. This can be attributed to awareness levels regarding mobile phone recycling, with 59% admitting that they did not know that it is even possible to do so. 
It is in this regard, Nokia and EEG are rolling out the Take Back Program to provide the community with the necessary information and to raise awareness on the opportunity to recycle old mobile devices and accessories. The initiative also falls in line with EEG’s other environment initiatives in the UAE that address growing waste problem of the country and show best practices in resource conservation.
Mia Ranta-aho, Senior Environmental Manager, at Nokia Middle East and Africa said, “It is clear from this survey that when mobile devices finally reach the end of their lives that very few of them are recycled. Many people are simply unaware that these old and unused mobiles lying around in drawers can be recycled or how to do this. Nokia is working hard to make it easier, providing more information and expanding our global take-back programs.
“Today, we are further strengthening our take-back capability in the UAE to cover all our service centers in the country. If each of the three billion people globally owning mobiles brought back just one unused device we could save 240,000 tones of raw materials and reduce greenhouse gases to the same effect as taking four million cars off the road. By working together, small individual actions could add up to make a big difference,” she added.
Mrs. Habiba Al Marashi, EEG Chairperson said, “We would like to encourage the community to support this Take Back Initiative which we are launching today as a direct response to the e-waste challenge. We are committed in addressing efficiently the recycling and or proper disposal of different materials to reduce the impact of waste on human health and the environment. We urge therefore the community to recycle their old mobile phones and accessories in order to produce new materials and reduce carbon emissions in the process”.
Mia Ranta-aho added, “Using the best recycling technology nothing is wasted. Between 65 – 80 per cent of a Nokia device can be recycled. Plastics that can’t be recycled are burnt to provide energy for the recycling process, and other materials are ground up into chips and used as construction materials or for building roads. In this way nothing has to go to landfill.”
The findings highlight that despite the fact that people on average around the world have each owned around five phones; very few of these are being recycled once they are no longer used. Only 3% said they had recycled their old phone. Yet very few old devices, 4%, are being thrown into landfill. Instead the majority, 44%, are simply being kept at homes never used. Others are giving their mobiles another life in different ways, one quarter are passing on their old phones to friends or family, and 16% of people are selling their used devices particularly in emerging markets. Up to 80% of any Nokia device is recyclable and precious materials within it can be reused to help make new products such as kitchen kettles, park benches, dental fillings or even saxophones and other metal musical instruments Nokia has collection points for unwanted mobile devices in 85 countries around the world, the largest voluntary scheme in the mobile industry. People can drop off their old devices at Nokia’s service centers, the EEG Office and Nokia Branded stores across the UAE. To find their nearest take back point people can visit  
To raise awareness about recycling, Nokia has been running a series of campaigns and activities to give people more information on why, how and where to recycle their old and unwanted devices, chargers and mobile accessories.

Rushika Bhatia Editor

Rushika Bhatia is one of the region’s leading commentators on business and current affairs issues. She is the Editor of SME Advisor magazine - the flagship title of CPI Business. She is passionate about infographics – with special emphasis on data, research and statistics. Rushika has a Bachelor’s Degree from Indiana University, USA and is also CIMA qualified.

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