Mobile Take Back

Eco House Agent, United Kingdom

Mobile Take Back


Because Western society demands a constant flow of cash to support its structure of supply and demand, major manufacturers and businesses exert pressure on their consumers to buy the latest model of car, the most recent and fast-functioning computer and the newest phone design. But, regrettably, what many people are not aware of is the environmental impact of such consumption. With so many computers and phones being thrown away, masses of waste material is created; and what’s more, a great deal of energy is expended in the manufacture of new updated phones, damaging biodiversity. 

By consequence of the rapid pace of development in mobile technology, in particular, most people with high-income jobs replace their handset every 18 months, getting rid of old phones that have nothing wrong with them. Depressingly, commercial advertisements are powerful in encouraging consumers to buy, and buy again, while there is a lack of publicity on the massive environmental damage caused by upgrading your phone. 

Thankfully, it is by consequence of this that many companies like Vodafone, amongst other “green” initiatives, have developed a handful of policies designed to encourage consumers to recycle old phones as well as keep the phones they have for longer. As part of “mobile take-back,” Vodafone collects old mobile phones as well as accessories such as batteries, chargers and headsets, and either refurbishes them for re-use or breaks them down into component parts for recycling. This helps to reduce waste as well as the energy required in the extraction of raw materials like precious metals to make new phones. On top of promoting recycling, many of Vodafone’s local operating companies offer incentives to encourage consumers to keep their phones for longer. For example, Vodafone’s SIM only tariff offers lower monthly subscriptions for customers who continue to use their existing phone, rather than immediately turning to an upgrade. 

What is also not widely recognised are the benefits which recycling mobile phones in the West can have for economies in developing countries. In fact, populations of emerging economies welcome the possibility of having a mobile phone which functions perfectly but is also quite cheap. To this end, Vodafone sell second hand phones, or handsets which are built up of previous phones’ parts, to the people of these middle-income countries. Check out their website to see how the parts of a Vodafone phone are recycled, and to check out a whole range of new phones, including the iPhone.

It is worrying that a great deal of damage can be done to the natural environment through the very operations of consumption and production on which Western commercial society is founded. Such a worry can be mitigated only insofar as more is done to make people aware of the very possible solutions to such massive environmental problems.

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