Scheme launched to recycle mobile phones

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A scheme aimed at cutting down waste by recycling the estimated 90 million unused mobile phones languishing in drawers and cupboards around Britain is being introduced this week.

A scheme aimed at cutting down waste by recycling the estimated 90 million unused mobile phones languishing in drawers and cupboards around Britain is being introduced this week.

For the first time, owners of unwanted handsets will be able to send them off in a pre-paid envelope to a recycling company. The scheme, which comes into effect two years ahead of a new EU law designed to reduce electrical waste, is being run by the Comet retail chain in partnership with XS tronix, an environmental communications company.

It aims to be easy and accessible to all, regardless of whether customers originally bought their phone from a Comet store.

Customers can make a £5 donation to Macmillan Cancer Relief or use the equivalent as a reduction off the price of a new mobile purchased from the store.

However, when the new European law comes into effect, manufacturers will have to accept back old products and recycle them. It is expected to cost the industry up to £1bn a year, with an additional cost of up to £5bn to deal with the existing backlog of waste. Up to 10,000 companies in Europe could be affected, and retail prices are expected to rise to cover the extra cost.

Handsets sent to XS tronix in the envelopes supplied will be dismantled and broken down, enabling plastics and precious metals to be extracted and recycled. Components made of heavy metals will be safely disposed of, minimising environmental pollution.

Last year, the charity Oxfam began an appeal for old mobiles to raise money, and in Scotland a company began a similar scheme to collect unused phones from across the country. Currently only 10 per cent of electrical goods are recycled in the UK.

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