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Phone recycling scheme rakes in three million handhelds

Telecommunications company O2 says its phone recycling programme in the UK has kept more than three million handsets from landfill over the past ten years.

There are an estimated 40 million unused devices in the UK with around 82%  households owning at least one surplus handheld. Less than 20% plan to recycle the phones while around 15% would want to sell them.

The dedicated scheme called O2 Recycle was launched in 2009 in partnership with Redeem and has become the UK’s longest-running phone recycling initiative. The idea is that when customers upgrade a phone, they send off their old device and receive credit against the purchase of a new one.

O2’s Digital Butterfly campaign aims to promote the value of used phones.

‘We’re extremely proud that, over the last decade, we have saved 450 tonnes of waste from landfill,’ says Nicola Green, director of corporate affairs at O2, pointing out it is the equivalent of 35 London buses. ‘The scheme has paid over £225 million (EUR 263 million) back to environmentally conscious customers.’

September is the most popular month for recycling as it coincides with the launch of new phone models. Green recalls that the Nokia N95 was the first phone to be recycled within the scheme in 2009. Currently, 70% of those collected are iPhones. 

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