More than two million devices have been recycled through the O2 Recycle initiative, reducing emissions by 10,000 tonnes and slashing water use by 26 million litres in the process. O2 claims that the frequency of recycling for old mobile models saw £51 paid back to consumers every minute in 2015.

The recycling scheme forms part of O2’s Think Big programme, which aims to help customers create positive impacts across the globe. O2 revealed that the aforementioned carbon and water savings equate to 2,000 cars being taken off the road and could supply the average household energy for 10 houses for 77 years.

O2’s head of sustainability marketing Mark McGinn said: “When we launched O2 Recycle in 2009, our ambition was to offer people a simple, environmentally friendly way of disposing of their old tech and to reward them for doing so. We’re proud to have reached this landmark figure, with more people than ever recycling their devices with us and becoming the biggest mobile network recycler in Europe.

“We’ve helped customers reduce their impact on the environment, and rewarded this positive action by giving them over £135 million in return. As our love of tech continues to grow, setting this positive behaviour around the second life of devices is essential. Furthermore, O2 Recycle also fundraises for our Think Big youth programme, helping to fund over 7,000 community action projects led and delivered by young people across the UK.”

More than half of the total number of recycled handsets were sent to O2 over the last two years, with 430,000 sent in 2015. According to the Green Alliance, emission savings from the scheme accounts for 1% of O2’s UK emissions.

Commenting on the figures, Forum for the Future’s founder Jonathon Porritt said: “E-waste has become the fastest-growing waste stream worldwide, representing a massive sustainability challenge. With an impressive two million devices already recycled, it’s really important that O2 continues to encourage consumers to take actions of this kind. This is still an area of chronic resource wastage that requires a lot of attention, and the more leadership that O2 brings to bear on it, the better it will be.”

Thinking big

The recycling scheme, which was rolled-out to businesses and schools as early as 2012, has seen more than one million iPhones handed in during the timeframe. Apple’s iPhone 5s was the most recycled phone over the last 12 months, accounting for 14% and £4.5m of the recycled volume. Since O2 Recycle’s inception, £15m has been paid back to customers who have returned an iPhone 4s.

Earlier this year, O2 unveiled the next phase of its bold Think Big Blueprint, which will establish the company as an “agent of change” by enhancing the livelihood of 20 million customers through a sustainable technology drive.

The company has also entered the domestic energy management sphere, partnering with American firm AT&T to launch a new service that allows customers to manage their home’s energy system via a mobile app.

Matt Mace

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