Samsung believe there are already 1 billion more mobile phones in the world than people.  Furthermore, the number of mobile phones in use currently exceeds 8 billion. Whilst Samsung first quarter sales were healthy at  294 million units in 2019, 2018 smartphone sales growth declined for the first time in history.  Each year only 25% of mobile phones are recycled. In contrast, in developing countries like Africa phone recycling is struggling to get above 1%.

Recycling initiative

In an effort to arrest this trend Samsung have introduced a new recycling initiative.  For every purchase of their Galaxy S10 E model Samsung will offset their production by recycling a discarded phone.  The program covers Ghana, Cameroon, Uganda and Nigeria.

The Netherlands based T-Mobile is supporting the scheme through its 124 stores.  This ‘one for one’ concept is a genuine attempt to contribute to the circular economy, because it reduces e-waste in developing countries.   The first shipment of 25,000 used phones from Cameroon recently arrived at Rotterdam.  Precious metal recycler Umicore and local e-scrap dealers were the recipients of the phones for reprocessing.

Introduced by Samsung in 2012 the scheme has recycled over 2.3 million phones.  Additionally, it managed to give over 160 000 phones a second life.  Finally, it seems like industry backing for this compensation of ‘new’ for ‘old’ is on its way to becoming an industry standard.  The model was recently recognised as one of the world’s best sustainable solutions for recycling mobile phones at the Barcelona Mobile World Congress.

Recycal recently announced the establishment of a new e-waste recycling business called eco e-waste and a new battery recycling business, ecobatt.

The addition of these two new entities to the group will provide a total recycled phone solution.  Importantly for batteries and the important rare earth minerals and precious metals within the constituent parts.


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