When old cell phone batteries peter out and new models are just too hard to resist, many people chuck leave their old phones languishing in a drawer or chuck them in the trash bin.
From there they are transported and dumped in the local landfill, such as Hariya, where it leaks harmful toxins. Another alternative is to recycle your old cell phone, to give it a new life. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to recycle in the Middle East, where the facilities are not as advanced as they are in the West. Zonzoo is changing that.
Give a phone a life
Already operating in nine European countries, Zonzoo collects and recycles up to 5-10% of cellular phones that might otherwise be improperly discarded, according to Gulf News.
Zonzoo, which is based in the United Kingdom, was established by Colin Armstrong Bell in 2002. In addition to donating 2% of their proceeds to charities, the company sends the used phones to countries where poorer consumers are happy to pay reduced prices.
“I don’t care if people hand in their phones to protect the environment or to get some cash for it as long as the phone comes to me, I’m the environmental answer,” Mr. Armstrong-Bell told Gulf News.
“We’re incentivising green behaviours,” added Roman Keilhacker, chief operating officer, Zonzoo.
The company has joined hands with the UAE Ministry of Environment and Water to create Enviroserve, a Public Private Partnership with the United Arab Emirates Ministry of Environment and Water committed to resolving the country’s environmental issues.
“Enviroserve is the only federally accredited and dedicated company in the Middle East offering e-scrap management/recycling services,” according to Zonzoo.
The goal is collect 500 discarded UAE phones every day, and to increase that number in 18 months to 5,000 phones a day. That would amount to 1.8 million phones diverted from the landfill each year, according to Gulf News.
In addition to the financial benefits, those who trade in their phones will receive compensation from Zonzoo and Enviroserve, the measure spares the environment from toxic chemicals leaching into the ground and water. One battery can contaminate 600,000 liters of water according to Gulf News.
In the first quarter of 2010, 34.41 million new cell phones flooded the Middle Eastern and African markets. As such, Zonzoo’s work is but a drop in the bucket, but a very important drop indeed.
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