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Samsung makes phone recycling pact to end mobile graveyard

Did you know there are already 1 billion more mobile phones in the world than people? And yet, little over 25% of our handhelds are recycled each year. Dutch firm Closing the Loop is now collaborating with Samsung Netherlands and T-Mobile to boost results.

The number of mobile phones in use currently exceeds 8 billion. Samsung sold 294 million units in 2018 – and 71.9 million units in the first quarter of this year alone. It’s worth noting that smartphone sales stopped growing for the first time in history in 2018. At the same time, phone recycling in African countries is struggling to top 1%.

One for one

Joost de Kluijver, ceo of Closing the Loop, saw this as a good reason to invite the Dutch branch of Samsung to get involved. Under the partnership, every purchase of a new Samsung Galaxy S10 E model will be ‘offset’ by recycling one discarded phone in Ghana, Cameroon, Uganda or Nigeria.

Telecom company T-Mobile is supporting the scheme at its 124 stores across the Netherlands. This is described as the ‘one for one’ concept. The first shipment of 25 000 used phones (from Cameroon) has already arrived at the port of Rotterdam. The phones will be processed by e-scrap and precious metals recyclers in Europe.

‘This means we directly contribute to the circular economy by reducing e-waste in developing countries,’ says Gerben van Walt Meijer, marketing manager of Samsung Netherlands. He urges: ‘As the market leader in mobile telecom, it is important that we take our responsibility.’

2+ million scrap phones later

‘Closing the Loop has saved 2.3 million phones from the dump since 2012,’ reports De Kluijver. Additionally, it managed to give over 160 000 phones a second life. The Amsterdam-based entrepreneur is proud to have recieved wide industry backing. For instance, his concept of material offsetting was recognised as ‘one of the world’s best sustainable solutions for mobile phones’ at the annual Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

Joost de Kluijver: ‘Mobile phones should never become waste.’

The future is promising, De Kluijver concludes. ‘The phone is an iconic product that deserves a much better end than being dumped on a mountain of waste. Compensation of telephones is on its way to become the new standard in this great sector.’

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Video gallery:

CTL founder Joost de Kluijver warns that tonnes of e-scrap are shipped to
Agbogbloshie in Ghana every year. Out of sight of of mind?

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