O2 recycles three million mobile devices in a decade

Telecoms company O2 has received more than three million devices as part of a trade-in scheme to boost the recyclability of smartphones, a move that has stopped more than 450 tonnes of phone-related waste from going to landfill.

The company’s service has grown in popularity over the last couple of years, with an average of £500,000 each week paid out as part of the trade-in service

The company’s service has grown in popularity over the last couple of years, with an average of £500,000 each week paid out as part of the trade-in service

O2 unveiled the results of its O2 Recycle scheme, which has been running for a decade. Through the initiative, customers can trade in old devices for cash. O2, in partnership with recycling service provider Redeem, has paid out £226m in exchange for used devices.

All traded-in devices are data-wiped and reused, or recycled, with 95% of them resold back into the market. O2 has claimed that most are resold within the UK, reducing carbon emissions from transport as a result.

O2’s director of corporate affairs, Nicola Green said: “As a responsible business, we recognise the importance of doing the right thing for our customers and for the planet. We’re extremely proud that, over the last ten years, our pioneering O2 Recycle scheme has saved 450 tonnes of waste from landfill – that’s the equivalent of thirty-five London buses, as well as paying over £225m back to environmentally conscious customers.”

Supply chain management

The company’s service has grown in popularity over the last couple of years, with an average of £500,000 paid out each week as part of the trade-in service. It forms part of a wider move to improve the circularity of the company’s value chain.

In June this year, O2 was recertified to the highest possible level of supply chain management to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The company achieved recertification to the Carbon Trust Standard for Supply Chain at level 3, the highest certification that can be achieved. The standard is awarded for firms that showcase a targeted approach to year-on-year supply chain carbon emissions reductions through identification and engagement measures with suppliers.

Level 3 requires firms to “demonstrate reductions in specified parts of the supply chain”, which O2 achieved through contractual engagements with suppliers to enrol in carbon reduction programmes. The contractually obliged suppliers represent almost 21% of O2’s supply chain emissions.

O2 was first awarded a Carbon Trust Standard for Carbon in 2010 for successfully reducing operational emissions, which has fallen by 80% in a five-year period from a 2010 baseline. The company was first awarded level 3 status in 2017.

Take back schemes are growing in popularity amongst consumer-facing firms that are attempting to transition to the circular economy.

Property developer Landsec, for example, has launched a fashion take-back scheme at one of the UK's largest shopping centres in a bid to encourage consumers to divert used textiles from landfill, while The Body Shop is amongst the growing list of organisations to launch a multinational take-back scheme for its plastic packaging.

Matt Mace



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