Millions of used mobile phones in Norwegian homes

7 out of 10 Norwegians keep one or more discarded mobile phones at home. Telenor is now launching a unique partnership with The Norwegian Olympic and Paralympic Committee and Confederation of Sports (NIF) in order to clear the country’s drawers of used mobile phones.

Written: Apr 2011

Reading Time: 3 minutes

The historic environmental agreement between Telenor and NIF was signed 5th of April, the National Mobile Recycling Day. The agreement will see sports clubs across Norway go from door to door to collect old and used mobile phones to help the environment, and as an important part of their fundraising work. The sports club will receive NOK 35 for each mobile phone collected.

“Safe and environmentally friendly recycling has been important to Telenor since the beginning in 2009. We believe that this agreement with NIF will help significantly lower the threshold for recycling used mobile phones and greatly boost the number of collected mobile phones in Norway,” says Torild Uribarri, Telenor Norway’s director of communications and corporate responsibility.

Aiming for record numbers

So far Telenor has collected just over 30,000 used mobile phones. During 2011 the goal is to collect 200,000 used mobile phones in Norway via sports clubs, recycling in shops and return envelopes.

“It is an ambitious target, but we have every faith that Norwegian sports clubs will see the use of it, and not least the Norwegians’ desire to support their local sports clubs. We also know that most people want to recycle if they feel it is safe, easy to do and helps improve the environment. This is what Telenor is offering through its recycling programme used mobile, new opportunities,” says Uribarri.

If the sports clubs can collect 200,000 used mobile phones, they will collectively manage to raise NOK 7 million.

More than 8 million mobiles locked away in drawers

A nationwide survey carried out by Norstat on behalf of Telenor found that 57 per cent of us have up to three used mobile phones lying around at home. Almost two out of ten Norwegians say they have more than four used mobile phones tucked away in cupboards and drawers – and they tend to languish there for some time.

“It is very important for the environment that these mobiles are recycled. More than 90 per cent of mobile telephone parts can be used again, and there is a major shortage of metals and minerals extracted for the construction of new mobile phones. Until now the industry and the public in general have not been good enough at recycling used mobile phones, and it is therefore great to see Telenor and NIF get together in a joint effort for the environment,” says Erik Solheim, Minister of the Environment and International Development.

The collected mobiles will be sent to Telenor’s certified return partner Regenersis in the UK, where they are either recycled or prepared for reuse. More than 90 per cent of a mobile phone’s parts can be reused. The Norwegians’ used mobile phones can also generate new opportunities for others, and phones that are in a good condition can be sold on to active second-hand markets in Asia. Based on population figures and the results of the survey, it has been estimated that there are around 8 million used mobile phones gathering dust in cupboard and drawers across the country.

Important income for sports clubs

The agreement was signed by NIF President Tove Paule and Telenor’s sponsorship director Petter Svendsen following Tuesday’s debate on mobile phone recycling at Telenor’s headquarters in Fornebu.

“The agreement between NIF and Telenor represents a potential revenue source for those sports clubs that choose to take part, and it is also a useful environmental concept. Norwegian sports clubs are known for their passion for voluntary work, and I am certain that clubs across the country will put in a major effort,” says NIF president Tove Paule.

Pilot collection in the six largest cities

This week six clubs in Norway’s largest cities will become the first to start the nationwide collection of used mobile phones. All Telenor employees have also made a contribution by returning their used mobile phones on the National Mobile Recycling Day.

“We have to do our bit and set an example, and it will be exciting to see the result of our internal campaign amongst almost 5,000 staff in Norway. Hopefully we will take a big step towards the target of 200,000 collected mobile phones,” says Uribarri.

Pilot collections will take place via sports clubs in Oslo (Bækkelaget Sportsklubb), Kristiansand (Kristiansand Roklubb), Stavanger (Viking Håndball), Bergen (Turn og idrettslaget Hovding), Trondheim (Charlottenlund Sportsklubb) and in Tromsø, (Tromsø IL). Other interested clubs can sign up from the 2nd of May at, and the main collection drive will start later in May.