Phone makers, carriers lead green drive

Melissa Chua
25 Nov 2011

While Asian operators and manufacturers have traditionally pursued separate eco-friendly approaches, some small steps are being taken towards change.

Various mobile phone manufacturers have for years been attempting to go green with little assistance from carriers. Nokia’s efforts at recycling in Southeast Asia and the Pacific started in 2000 via public take back programs. The programs allow consumers to drop off devices, accessories and chargers from all brands at over 200 service centers in Asia for recycling at third-party facilities.

Nokia’s efforts have since expanded to include a campaign in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia, where consumers who recycle their phones get a tree planted in their names. The Finnish manufacturer has also launched interactive kiosks in Malaysia to facilitate the recycling and servicing process for customers.

Motorola has established a network of recycling partners in various countries in the Asia Pacific, with collection points mostly situated at retail stores; as has Sony Ericsson, which has also pledged an ‘environmental warranty’ for phones to be recycled responsibly.

Operator efforts have meanwhile been largely focused on the collection of second hand, traded-in devices from consumers either for safe disposal or refurbishment for subsequent sale in emerging markets. Japan’s NTT Docomo has, since 2008, extended the reach of its recycling program via a tie-up with local convenience store chain am/pm, where recycling bins were placed in the latter’s store locations for easier consumer access.

Some carriers in the region have tied-up with phone makers in the name of sustainability and going ‘green’ on a larger scale. A joint effort between China Mobile, Motorola and Nokia in China, dubbed the Green Box program, has to date taken in 30,000 handsets, 3,500 batteries and 2,600 accessories since its launch in December 2005.

Other carrier-vendor tie-ups in the region, which aim to leverage operators’ larger reach, have also occurred. Singapore’s SingTel has, since March this year, helped expand the reach of Nokia’s recycling program by providing consumers with mobile phone recycling envelopes as well as drop-off bins at its stores.

In the Philippines, Globe Telecom, Nokia and Globe’s parent company the Ayala Foundation have pledged a 100 peso ($2.30) donation towards the preservation of the Philippine tarsier’s (an endangered species) habitat, for every mobile phone donated for recycling. Collection bins have been placed in both Globe stores and Ayala-owned malls. The program started September this year and a 10,000 phone target has been set for a one-year period.

StarHub’s head of sales and marketing, Ng Long Shyang, told that the carrier is currently studying the possibility of a mobile recycling scheme with its handset suppliers.

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