Unused cell phones, a golden market
Your old cell phones have become a potential windfall for the Global Telecommunications Manufacturers Association (GSMA) and twelve operators, who on Tuesday announced a series of commitments to “reuse” or “recycle” unused handsets worldwide. A considerable market: “more than five billion” devices are concerned.
“The GSMA estimates that by properly recycling 5 billion cell phones, the equivalent of 7.30 billion euros worth of gold, palladium, silver, copper, rare earth and other critical minerals could be recovered, as well as enough cobalt for the production of 10 million electric car batteries,” they estimated in a joint statement.
Other solutions include a takeover program. According to the twelve operators (including BT, Orange, Telefonica, Iliad…) “at least 20%” of the number of new mobile handsets distributed directly to customers could come from these stocks by 2030. In addition, “100% of used mobile devices collected” under take-back programs will be “repaired, reused or transferred to controlled recycling organizations”.
This is an important step, whether it involves reconditioning (refurbishing used devices) or recycling components (metals, rare earth, plastics, etc.). According to Persistence Market Research, sales of recycled cell phones are set to rise from $49.9 billion (45.5 billion euros) in 2020 to $143.8 billion (131.2 billion euros) in 2031.