How the mobile industry can increase the circularity of mobile devices

Ahead of COP27, the GSMA, the international organization representing mobile operators and organisations, published a new, long-term vision on the way the mobile industry can increase the circularity of its supply and manufacturing chains for mobile devices.

The mobile industry is making real progress on circularity, but much remains to be done to reduce the environmental impact of mobile devices.

Regarding the life cycle of a mobile phone, the bulk of the environmental impact – around 80% – lies in its manufacture. Over 50 different materials can currently be found in an average smartphone, including plastics, ceramics, rare metals, copper and silicon. Mining for these materials can cause negative environmental and social impacts. Manufacturing and assembly also contribute to greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel use.

Whilst the GSMA’s vision lays out a future pathway towards true circularity, progress is already being made by mobile operators. In this context, the report mentions the initiatives Proximus is taking to become a truly circular company by 2030.

Proximus focuses on further developing its circular business models, both for fixed and mobile devices. For its mobile devices, Proximus collects old mobile phones in order to have them refurbished or recycled. Refurbished smartphones are put up for sale. Mobile phones that can no longer be used are recycled by partners Umicore, Recupel, Out of use and Brainscape. Since September 2021, the Proximus shops and online shop offer customers refurbished smartphones as an alternative to new devices. These devices are thoroughly checked and are sold with a two-year warranty, just like new mobile phones.

In the paper the GSMA also emphasizes the importance of engaging all elements of the supply chain to drive a step-change in the circularity of the mobile device market – from operators to suppliers, manufacturers to consumers, repairers to recyclers. All have a role to play.

As an active member of GSMA, Proximus endorses GSMA’s vision of a future where devices have as long a lifetime as possible, where they are made with 100% recyclable and recycled content using 100% renewable energy and where no device ends up as waste.

Read the whole Strategy Paper here


Social media