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Vodafone backs e-cycling in Africa one phone at a time

Vodafone Germany is partnering with Dutch firm Closing the Loop (CTL) to recycle at least one million phones every year. Their new ‘One for One’ programme is intended to create ‘secure waste streams’.

For every phone Vodafone sells to German consumers, a phone in a country without electronics recycling infrastructure will be collected for recycling in Europe. These include Ghana, Nigeria and Cameroon. CTL will help Vodafone by providing all new phone users with its ‘waste compensation’ service.

CTL founder Joost de Kluijver initially wanted all collected phones to be treated domestically. However, his team’s efforts show this is not yet practically feasible. The entrepreneur notes that, even with shipping, there is still a ‘net climate benefit’ to recycling unwanted phones.

Meanwhile, Vodafone’s long-term commitment will allow CTL to scale up and invest in recycling infrastructure in African countries. This will create local jobs while gradually eliminating the need to export devices.

How does ‘waste compensation’ work?

  • People purchase electronics – the brand or model doesn’t matter
  • CTL charges a fee of a few euros per device
  • CTL uses that fee to collect end-of-life electronics in African countries
  • The e-scrap is sent to certified recycling facilities
  • Reusable materials are recovered and go back into manufacturing
  • Recycling this waste ‘compensates’ the newly bought device, making it ‘waste-neutral’
  • CTL reports on the positive impact created for every user

The major partnership can be ‘a force for good – on steroids’,  the Kluijver anticipates. ‘Every effort counts, but it will take a massive effort on behalf of the tech industry to move towards a more sustainable future for phones,’ he adds.  

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