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Vodafone Germany collects more than 1.5 million phones for recycling

22 Mar 2024Protecting the Planet
3 minute read

In June 2022, Vodafone launched its One for One initiative, promising private customers in Germany that for every new mobile phone bought, the company would bring an old one back into the recycling ecosystem.

Over the past two years, together with partner and leading provider of e-waste compensation Closing the Loop, Vodafone has collected more than 1.5 million mobile phones for professional recycling.

As a result, One for One is already one of the world's largest mobile phone recycling programmes in the telecommunications industry.

Bringing value to raw materials

In total, more than 80 tonnes of e-waste have been collected by the One for One scheme.

From this, more than 6,300 kg of copper, 37 kg of silver and 7 kg of gold will be returned into the recycling system. They can then be processed further, being reused by the tech industry or broken down and taken into jewellery production.

Vodafone Germany collects more than 1.5 million phones for recycling

This brings a range of benefits.

Firstly, it stops mobile phones ending up in landfills, where harmful substances such as lead, mercury, cadmium and arsenic can have a negative effect on the environment and local community.

Secondly, some of the valuable raw materials in a phone, such as gold, silver and copper, are returned into the recycling ecosystem meaning they do not have to be mined at a cost to the environment.

A final positive side effect is that the process of collecting old mobile phones provides new sources of income and jobs in socially disadvantaged regions. This is because Closing the Loop works exclusively with local partners in the collection countries – mostly countries without safe recycling structures.

Supporting developing countries

Currently, the old mobile phones are collected in Ghana before being shipped to Europe for safe recycling.

Since the programme launched, more than 3,800 living wages have been secured for local people by the jobs this scheme has created.

Despite the carbon footprint of transporting the phones, the overall process of One for One recycling reduces carbon when compared with virgin mining.

While local recycling would be better, this is currently not possible, but this is one of the areas Closing the Loop is working on with a variety of organisations, with the aim of building an African recycling facility in the near future.

Minimising e-waste

E-waste is a global problem. Its solution must not end at our borders. With One for One, we are taking responsibility and setting an example for the industry,

- says Michael Jungwirth, Managing Director Public Affairs & Sustainability at Vodafone Germany

Across our global footprint at Vodafone, we are ensuring a longer life cycle through optimised repair, re-trade and recycling services working with partners like Recommerce.

And teaming up with WWF, we’re collecting 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 and encouraging a more circular economy for mobile phones.

In addition, to support our goal to reuse, resell or recycle 100% of our network waste, we launched Asset Marketplace, a business-to-business solution within Vodafone that allows us to re-sell and repurpose large decommissioned electrical items like masts and antennae. This helps us reduce carbon emissions and resource use by not needing to purchase new items.

  • Germany
  • Protecting the Planet
  • Circular economy 
  • Consumers
  • Digital for Green
  • Environment
  • Europe
  • Reducing emissions
  • Responsible supply chain
  • Social Contract
  • Sustainability
  • SDGs
  • SDG 17
  • SDG 13
  • SDG 12
  • SDG 3

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