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  • Kirstin Linnenkoper

Consumers want more recycling, not more new phones

Updated: Oct 25, 2022

Global: A larger display, thinner case, better camera - three reasons why consumers abandon their old phones and switch to the latest model. At least, that’s what the manufacturers claim. A new survey by Greenpeace reveals that, in reality, consumers aren’t that desperate to replace their mobile handsets. It turns out that ever more people consider ‘better service’ to be the top priority, and that includes phone recycling schemes.

Of the 6000 people surveyed across the USA, Mexico, Russia, Germany, China and South Korea, more than half of respondents said manufacturers release 'too many' new models of mobile phones.

The percentage was as high as 76% in Mexico while some 69% of interviewees in Germany and Russia claimed they would have no problem in keeping their existing phones for longer. In fact, the general consensus (90%) was that a phone ‘designed to last’ was of utmost importance.

Almost half of the consumers surveyed called on manufacturers to take responsibility for making recycling initiatives accessible. ‘Sentiments were particularly strong in Germany (61%) and China (53%),’ Greenpeace observes. Also, four out of five respondents said a phone should be easy to repair if damaged, something which ought to be extended to disassembly of end-of-life devices.

Some 57% of the South Korean consumers surveyed indicated that the specialised recycling services organised by manufacturers enabled them to hand in their phones for recycling compared to only 11% in Germany. In another stark contrast, 31% of respondents in the USA and 51% in Russia believed their discarded phones were destined for landfill whereas only a small proportion (4%) of people in South Korea thought this was the final destination for their handhelds.

'True innovation should strive to improve economic and environmental goals simultaneously,' Greenpeace asserts. Consumer feedback clearly indicates that manufacturers need to take recycling into consideration from the beginning of the production phase, the organisation adds.

'We challenge the information technology sector to move towards closed-loop production,' Greenpeace declares. 'It is time for technology leaders to rethink the way they make our electronic gadgets.'

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