Cellphone Recycling

7 12 2008

 In an interview to ET, Robert Anderson, Executive VP of Nokia has commented that “For the first time ever, the replacement market is now larger than the entry market in countries such as India.” This insight has led manufacturers like Nokia to provide attractive designs and features in mid-level handsets.

 
This insight also means that several million handsets are being discarded every month. India already has over 300 million cellphone connections. India adds about seven million new mobile connections every month. If replacement market is bigger than the entry market, atleast four-five million handsets are being discarded every month. This will only grow in the future.

 
These discarded cellphones are lying in homes or godowns of the cellphone retailers, who often lure the customers to buy new handsets with an exchange offer. The circuit boards of cellphones have precious metals which can be recovered. The cellphone chargers have useful copper which can be easily recycled. On the flipside, these electronic wastes are harmful to the environment if discarded or incinerated unscientifically.

 
In several European countries, the onus of cellphone recycling has been put on the original handset manufacturers. This has led companies like Motorola to come up with a program titled ‘Race to recycle’  which has been designed for kids and schools to collect old discarded cellphones. Motorola funds this program by providing grants to schools. 

 
It is time for  the Indian government to issue clear guidelines for cellphone disposal and force the handset manufacturers to set up a reverse supply chain to collect the old handsets.This also presents an opportunity for small businesses to create collection systems in towns and cities. The handset manufacturers will surely need to use their services to make the recycling schemes work efficiently.

– G. Mohan

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