Mobile phone recycler wins queens award

A company recycling mobile phones has won the Queen's award for Enterprise for international trade.

Fonebak became the proud winner after increasing its overseas sales by 127% to £27 million in three years, while combining business with environmental imperatives.

Through the reuse and recycling of mobile phones, over 1,800 tonnes of electrical waste going to landfill has been avoided, despite the fact that 18 million mobile phones are replaced or upgraded in the UK each year.

With a client base of over 1,000, the company has now developed an international distribution network in Africa, Asia Pacific and Eastern Europe, already complies fully with the forthcoming Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive and has been endorsed by major retailers, charities and the UK Government.

The cost of buying new handsets has been identified as the biggest barrier to mobile communications affordability in developing countries, according to Fonebak CEO Kathy Woodward, which is why distributing old phones in areas such as Africa and Asia has made a big difference to local people.

Any phones that are not passed on for reuse are recycled in order to recover materials that can then be returned to productive use.

"We are delighted to have won this award. Fonebak believes that low-cost handsets play an important role in developing communications in areas that do not have access to fixed line telephones," Ms Woodward stated. "It has also been extremely rewarding seeing developing economies accessing the world of mobile phones at affordable prices."

"We believe that providing a solution for network operators combined with offering reconditioned low-cost mobile phones has created a circle of good business practice."

An environmental management system (EMS) is incorporated into all of Fonebak's operations to ensure that environmental risk and impact is minimised.

By Jane Kettle



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