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Protecting the planet starts at the bottom of your drawer

22 Apr 2024Protecting the Planet
3 minute read

On Earth Day (22 April), Vodafone is encouraging customers to look through their homes and drawers for old or unused phones which could be recycled or have a chance at a second life.

With more than 5 billion mobile phones lying unused in people’s homes and offices around the world, Vodafone’s #SwitchToGreen campaign is encouraging people to mark Earth Day by handing in their old phones and doing their bit for the planet.

By teaming up with WWF, Vodafone is already pledging to collect one million phones for the planet with the hope of increasing the number of used mobile phone devices returned to us for trade-in, donation or recycling – with the goal of encouraging a more circular economy for mobile phones. Every phone collected sees £1 generated for WWF conservation projects around the world.*

Protecting the planet starts at the bottom of your drawer

Across our global footprint at Vodafone, we are ensuring a longer life cycle for mobile phones through repair and recycling, and, in some markets, through refurbishing and re-selling devices with partners like Recommerce.

The recently published Recommerce Barometer in partnership with Vodafone showed that consumer demand for refurbished devices keeps growing. According to the Barometer, nearly 2 in 5 Europeans cited the environment as a reason for purchasing a refurbished device.

Vodafone Germany’s One for One initiative is one of the world’s largest mobile phone recycling programmes in the telco industry. For every new mobile phone bought by Vodafone’s customers in Germany, an old phone in another country is brought back into the recycling ecosystem.

In partnership with Closing the Loop, a leading provider of e-waste compensation, Vodafone Germany has collected more than 1.5 million mobile phones in Ghana for professional recycling from local partners in collection countries. They are then shipped to Europe for safe recycling.

As a result, more than 80 tonnes of e-waste have been collected by the One for One scheme.

Vodafone Spain repaired a record 100,000 handsets via its Vodafone Care service last year, helping to prolong the life of its customers’ phones.

How does trade-in help protect our planet?

By trading in a used phone, it has the chance to have a second life – through being refurbished and re-sold.

Purchasing a refurbished smartphone instead of a new device helps to avoid around 50 Kg CO2e of greenhouse gas emissions. And the climate impact of a refurbished phone is 20% or less that of a newly manufactured smartphone – and removes the need to extract over 70 Kg of raw materials.

This is based on a lifecycle assessment study (Erwann Fangeat, ADEME, et al, Assessment of the environmental impact of a set of refurbished products – Final Report (2022)), which found that a refurbished phone used for two years creates 24.6kg CO2e less carbon emissions per year when compared to a new phone used for 3 years (according to the study results shown on page 64). Over the 2-year period of use of the refurbished phone, this avoids around 50kg CO2e of carbon emissions.

The study found that a refurbished phone has an 87% lower contribution to climate change (or ‘GWP’) compared to a new phone. The study also found that buying and using a refurbished phone instead of a new phone requires the extraction of 76.9kg less raw materials (page 64).

For the full study, see

*The total contribution across the world will be a maximum of £1,000,000. In the UK, every phone we collect will see £1 paid to WWF-UK (WWF-UK is a charity registered in England and Wales (1081247) and Scotland (SC039593)

  • Protecting the Planet
  • Circular economy 
  • Consumers
  • Environment
  • Hardware
  • Mobile
  • Smartphone
  • Sustainability
  • WWF

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