Launching today at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Rethink offers companies a straightforward approach to becoming more responsible environmental stewards and joining the Circular Economy. For every mobile phone companies use, Rethink will save one from e-waste dumps as well as responsibly recycling both the retrieved phone and the new phone when it comes to the end of its life. This offsetting concept uniquely combines the approach of a pioneering startup and an industry leader in metal recycling.
Fueled by demand for gadgets, increasing numbers of consumers and decreasing usage time, so-called ‘e-waste’ volumes are increasing across the world. Hundreds of millions of the world’s ‘waste phones’ end up in countries that lack adequate recycling facilities, often in Africa and Asia. The recent UN Research Arm’s E-Waste Monitor Report found that China alone more than doubled its generation of e-waste between 2010 and 2015 to 6.7 million tonnes, up 107%.
In regions without suitable processing facilities, electronics such as mobile phones are quite often recycled by the informal sector, as the UN report found. However, a lack of safety equipment and unsafe separation leads to environmental pollution, loss of valuable raw materials and a negative impact on human health. Also, lack of convenience, lack of incentives and an absence of suitable processing sites can be reasons for e-waste ‘dumping’. The Rethink Programme is set up to turn these waste problems into opportunities for safe and environmental jobs and income. Combining the best of two worlds – that of innovative social startup ‘Closing the Loop’ and that of metal recycling industry leader ‘Sims Recycling Solutions’, Rethink is all about scaling up profitable solutions for environmental challenges.
Closing the Loop Director Joost de Kluijver describes the philosophy behind the Programme. “We believe the industry around mobile phones can and should become circular. For every mobile phone a company uses Rethink will save one from e-waste dumps in developing countries. In collaboration with local partners, social enterprises have been created in emerging markets to collect scrap phones, leading to a reduction in e-waste and an increase in employment opportunities”.
Launching customers, like ING Bank in the Netherlands, use Rethink to offset the impact caused by purchase or disposal of their employees’ phones. Rethink collects waste phones on ING’s behalf, thus offsetting the use of metals or the e-waste that’s created. The Programme creates local employment whilst reducing hazardous waste and landfill, as mobile phones are purchased and – often for the first time in those countries - brought to world-leading processing sites operated by Sims Recycling Solutions for secure and responsible recycling.
Sims Recycling Solutions’ EU Procurement Manager Jelle Slenters commented, “By reducing their mobile footprint, organisations become frontrunners for sustainable IT. We are enabling them to enter the Circular Economy while ensuring that e-waste is managed appropriately”. He continued, “By joining Rethink, organisations help battle the global e-waste mountains and at the same time gain measureable CSR results; increased employment, less pollution and higher rates of recycling. Participants are role models. This is the perfect first step for any company to introduce circularity in their business”.