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GLOBAL – What did you do with your last phone? Is it kept in your cupboard or you kitchen drawer along with five other devices just in case you might one day need your good old Nokia 3210 (released in 1999), which now has a battery life of about two precious minutes…?

In fact, this is what most people do, according to a study we’ve conducted on recycling habits across the globe. Overall, just nine per cent of respondents to the survey said they had recycled their last mobile phone. This means an increase of six per cent from 2007. Of the 11 countries covered in the study, the most active recyclers are found in Germany, Spain and Finland. However, strong growth has been seen in emerging economies, especially India and China.

How many phones does a person need?

At Nokia, we believe it’s our responsibility to make it as easy as possible to recycle mobile devices that are no longer in use. So although we are very happy about the increase, we acknowledge that the nine per cent means that 91% of phone owners are still either hoarding old devices, or in the worst case, simply binning them.

With our survey, we wanted to understand the barriers to recycling. Besides the world-wide trend of keeping the old phones as a back-up, lack of awareness of both recyclable materials and recycling channels came as a top reason why most people don’t currently recycle their mobile phones. This is particularly the case in developing countries.

Logically, the more convenient it is, the more likely people are to recycle their old mobile phone. But besides convenience and a higher awareness, what more is needed? Although the response to the idea of recycling campaigns is generally positive, the underlying questions in people’s minds are ‘how much effort do I have to make?’ and ‘what’s in it for me?’. So what we need is incentives. The rewards can be financial (for instance a voucher or free music track to download), or psychological, such as making a donation to an environmental charity.

With the results of the study, we will continue our work at Nokia to find ways to encourage you to recycle.

But why should you empty your drawer of old phones even if no rewards are handed out? Quite simply, because all the materials in Nokia phones can be used again to make new products or generate energy, so nothing is wasted.

Will you be recycling your old phones?