November 15th is America Recycles Day! Time for New Yorkers to celebrate by finding a home for that used cellphone collection you’re storing somewhere. Nokia recently announced a recycling campaign to collect 100,000 unwanted mobile devices between now and November 15th, and has made it even easier by allowing drop of at their flagship store in Manhattan at 5 East 57th Street.
Thanks to Nokia, options abound. In addition to drop-offs at the flag ship store, Nokia offers you the opportunity to pick up a postage paid mailer, a nation-wide toll free number (1-877 RECYCLES). If you’re not satisfied with mere recycling, you can sell or donate your old phones through the ReThink program, a partnership between EBay and electronics manufacturers like Nokia.
What will happen to your old Blackberry or Motorola Star Tac? Since 1999, Nokia has been collecting and distributing use phones to selected recyclers for reclaiming. Between 65% – 80% of the phone is recyclable, including the battery, the plastic casing, valuable components such as silver, gold, and palladium, and if you still have it, the original packaging. See Nokia’s description of what’s in their phones. As you may know, there also exist toxic, sometimes hazardous chemicals and components that need to be handled with great care, such as LCD screens, lithium ion and metal hydride batteries, and PVC in components (although not in Nokia phones, which follow stricter EU regulations). Don’t try recycling at home! Nokia practices precautionary principle when dealing with unsorted electronic waste, meaning that composition of the collected products are verified by professionals before they are recycled.
This is all part of Nokia’s world domination plan: to become the leading company in environmental performance. Environmental goals of identifying and eliminating risks are symbiotic with Nokia’s strong financial performance objectives. Nokia’s focus extends across the lifecycle of the product, and beyond the company’s boundaries, and has one of the most aggressive supply chain management oversight processes as well, documented in the 2004 BBC film, Made in China.
Nokia’s phone take-back program is also one of the most advanced in the industry, and is a global effort to encourage responsible recycling worldwide. For this reason, Nokia has led Greenpeace’s Green Electronics Guide rankings and is unlikely to be unseated anytime soon.
What is the impact of all of this recycling activity? According to the US EPA’s Environmental Benefits Calculator, taking back and recycling 100,000 cell phones conserves enough resources to power 190 US homes for one year. Since New Yorkers tend to live a more energy frugal life, that might be enough to power a small building or two. Multiply that by all New Yorkers, as the Mayor’s Office is proposing, and we can have a large impact on our environmental footprint this year.