Going green: device recycling in the UAE

Experts highlight the need for responsible disposal in the mobile era

Tags: Ecyclex (www.ecyclex.com/)EmaxEnvironmentJacky's ElectronicsSims Recycling Solutions (simsrecycling.com/)Technocare (www.technocare-solutions.com)United Arab Emirates
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Going green: device recycling in the UAE Don't just bin it: the proliferation of mobile devices accentuates the need for active recycling.
By  Helen Gaskell Published  July 24, 2014

Globally, people are becoming more aware of the environment and recycling has now become the norm, with most of us separating our plastics from our cans and paper. But what about mobile phones and laptops?

We are continuously upgrading our mobile phones and even laptops and tablets don't last a lifetime as product refresh cycles become ever shorter.

Pramod Kattel, general manager of Technocare said: "The replacement and upgrade market in the UAE is one of the highest in the world with industry estimates suggesting figures of over 2m handsets a year. Less than 1% of this volume is actually being recycled through authorised programmes such as [Technocare's] Foneswap. The majority of devices are discarded and end up in landfills. The rest are resold, handed down or reused."

Technocare said that the average phone user in the US has 1.88 phones and in the UK that figure is 2.06. So what is happening to all the disused phones? Do people throw them away or just keep them in a drawer?

According to a Mobile Mountain Study, almost 40% of participants said that they keep their old phones for themselves, while just 20% gave them to family members or friends and 9% actually disposed of them as refuse. According to MarketWatch, all of the dormant iPhones combined are worth approximately $13.4bn.

In the UAE, retailers such as Jacky's and Emax offer recycling programmes where customers can drop off their unwanted devices and will receive store credit where there is still value on the product. Usually this is based on the brand, model, age and condition. As well as accepting phones, laptops and tablets, Emax will also buy back cameras, televisions and refrigerators and will soon offer the same service for gaming consoles and washing machines.

According to Neelesh Bhatnagar, CEO of Emax, globally around 45m kilogrammes of electronic plastic waste is generated annually and only 8 to 10% of Emax customers participate in the buy-back scheme and carry in products to the store. Only 3 to 5% of customers do so for television and refrigerators, but he believes that trend is increasing.

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