Mohammed Omran, Chairman, Etisalat and Rob Conway, CEO, GSMA during the visit
Etisalat presented its environmental responsibility programme, Envirofone, to the CEO of the GSM Association (GSMA). Etisalat's initiative aims to help rid landfills from dangerous electronic waste that can poison water sources and generally harm people's health. Envirofone is now being rolled out across its international operations in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
The Etisalat Group's management team, including Mohammed Omran, Chairman, Ahmad Abdulkarim Julfar, Group Chief Operating Officer, Nasser bin Obood, Chief Executive of Etisalat UAE and Ahmed bin Ali, Group Senior Vice President Corporate Communications shared their plans with Mr Rob Conway, CEO of the GSMA, in an exclusive briefing at Etisalat's headquarters in Abu Dhabi.
"Etisalat has been working on its 'Envirofone' campaign in the UAE since 2007 and has since collected 450 tonnes of electronic waste which has all been safely disposed of in specialist factories. This programme is widely regarded as a success and has been cited in numerous environmental and CSR conferences," said Ahmed bin Ali, Group Senior Vice President, Corporate Commuications.
"This year, Etisalat plans to introduce a new Internet-based service which allows people to recycle and trade their old but still functional phones. This will help prevent damaging chemicals being released into the natural environment of emerging markets across Africa and Asia," he added.
Electronic waste is globally the largest growing waste category, increasing annually by 40 million tons. A single mobile phone can contain more than 40 elements from the periodic table, including very harmful and toxic substances such as Berylium, Cadmium and Lithium, and is capable of contaminating up to 600,000 litres of water. Through correct disposal, 80% of a phone can be recycled or energy recovered with the remainder being used in inert construction aggregates.
Rob Conway, Chief Executive Officer at the GSMA, explained, "We estimate that of the mobile phones collected annually about 15-20% or up to about 4.5 million phones globally will be beyond economic repair and need to be recycled. The current total mass of phones to be recycled is about 582 tonnes, only about 0.001-0.003% of the estimated 20-50 million tonnes of waste electronic (e-waste) equipment each year. This is a major problem and we welcome the efforts of leading telecoms groups such as Etisalat in helping to provide a solution."