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Monday, 23 September, 2002, 23:34 GMT 00:34 UK
Mobile mountain sparks recycling bid
Discarded mobile phones
Millions of mobile phones are discarded
The annual mountain of 15 million mobile phones scrapped because their users upgrade to newer models is being tackled with a new recycling scheme.

Customers will be encouraged by retailers and service providers to return their old phones under a programme called Fonebak, launched on Tuesday.

It is the first collaboration between mobile phone network operators and retailers which has the backing of the government.

It comes ahead of legislation in two years time when manufacturers will have to account for the recycling of all mobiles.

Poor recycling record

And it is the latest in a series of schemes to encourage mobile phone recycling.

Shields Environmental will recycle the handsets and tell each phone company what has happened to the old handsets.

Some will be sold to developing countries while others will be broken down.

Recycling phones
Toxic metals and plastics disposed of safely
Nickel turned into saucepans, batteries or irons
Copper from circuit boards used for plumbing
Plastics granulated and converted into traffic cones
New European legislation designed to eliminate electrical waste will mean manufacturers will have to accept back old products and recycle them.

Currently, only 10% of electrical goods are recycled in the European Union.

About 45 million people in the UK own mobile phones.

Last year a Scottish-based recycling company began a scheme to collect old mobiles from across the country.

Eurosource, in Falkirk, planned to sell to African countries with poor landline telecommunications.

And separately the charity Oxfam began an appeal for old mobiles to raise money for charitable causes.

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 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Jenny Scott
"Mobiles used to be a luxury"
See also:

21 Apr 02 | UK
10 Apr 02 | Business
02 Apr 02 | Science/Nature
27 Jun 01 | Scotland
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