While renewing the UAE’s only permanent community targeted mobile phone recycling collaboration into the fourth year, Nokia and Emirates Environmental Group, the UAE’s most engaged Non-Government-Organization for recycling solutions and awareness raising, have stepped forward to open their initiative to invite further stakeholders for their engagement in electronics recycling.
Mobile phones are among the most valuable material inflow for recycling companies processing electronic waste, and thus host a business case for electronics recyclers as well as an opportunity to create green jobs in the UAE. The EEG initiative, initiated and supported by Nokia since 2009, aims to involve the community of the UAE for the recycling of unwanted devices once no longer wanted. “EEG’s primary goal is to ensure that these valuable materials are not thrown in the landfills. We want people to know that their old mobile phones lying in their cabinets can be recycled and made into new products to save on precious natural resources -- and so can other electronics,” emphasized EEG’s Chairperson Mrs. Habiba Al Mar’ashi. Mobile phones are one product type out of many types of electronic products that at one point become waste and require a sustainable management solution. Therefore, a holistic setup of integrated policy, standards and schemes towards a sustainable future in the UAE is required that enables and guides business practices for the entire waste stream.
“Our mobile phone recycling initiative has been a great starting point for sustainable management of electronic waste in the UAE”, says Ulrike Vott, Sustainability Manager MEA Nokia. “We see it is time for the next step, which is to start dialogue in the country on the sustainable management of waste from Electronic and Electrical products overall, one of the world’s fastest growing waste streams. We therefore strongly encourage other stakeholders from industry, the market and the government to join the dialogue”.
Over 4 years ago, Nokia initiated the EEG initiative on Mobile Phone Recycling. In addition to many other recycling campaigns at Nokia Care centres in the UAE, Nokia has since been investing into the EEG scheme - to involve students, raise awareness, activate community participation and provide easily accessible channels for mobile phone recycling in the country.
Already in 2009, Nokia and EEG launched their first Collaboration on Mobile Phone Recycling – aiming to ensure that redundant mobile phones do not end up in landfills but get recycled in a responsible manner. Nokia conducted surveys on the factors stopping people from recycling their old devices. The survey conducted in the UAE revealed that only 2% of the respondents actually recycled their old phones - the reasons for not doing so included lack of awareness, the wish to keep the device as back up, the wish to sell the functioning device as a second hand product or personal worries about the private data stored on the device. During the years 2010 to 2012, as a consequence to the survey outcomes, the Nokia EEG initiative provided for awareness and dialogue sessions to schools and companies, with the aim to discuss the environmental significance of recycling electronics in general, and to explain how the mobile phone recycling initiative works and how it assures personal data protection. During 2012, the initiative facilitated 12 awareness sessions in schools - reaching a total of 1,500 students - and 16 awareness sessions in companies with more than 300 employees learning about electronics recycling. The sessions highlight how the initiative ensures that no device brought for recycling gets resold or refurbished, but actually physically destroyed during their process for metal recovery in the specialized recycling facility. The awareness sessions have also included education about the need to recycle all electrical and electronic products at their “end of life”, an unknown topic to many of the UAE residents.
“With the continuous innovation and launch of new electronic products everyday in the market, the recycling awareness of consumers also needs to grow, so to assure that local recycling solutions receive the material back once no longer used and wanted.” says Habiba Al Marashi, Chairperson of Emirates Environmental Group.
Thus, even in 2013, the EEG hosted Mobile Phone recycling awareness and dialogue sessions will continue in the UAE’s school and community landscape. However, the initiative under sponsorship of Nokia will be open to invite more electronics producers, retailers, operators or government organizations to join in to the important awareness raising and recycling endeavour.