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    A Cell Phone Recycling Deal for Chile

    By Keith R | April 24, 2007

    Topics: Corporate Social Responsibility, Electronic/Electrical Equipment, Environmental Protection, Waste & Recycling | No Comments »

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    Movistar and Nokia have announced a major cell phone recycling program for Chile. Movistar is a subsidiary of Spain’s Grupo Telefónica that is Chile’s leading mobile telephone service provider (5.5 million clients by end-2006, versus 5 million for Entel PCS and 2 million for Claro).

    A typical Under the program, “ReciclaMe” (“recycle me”) drop off points (such as the one pictured at right) will be set up around the country at places where Movistar services are sold. Consumers can drop off their old phone, as well as used cell phone batteries and accessories, in the box. The program will accept all brands of cell phone used by any mobile phone service in Chile.

    Once the collected phones and components reaches a certain critical mass (Movistar isn’t saying what the amount is), they will be shipped to a facility in Guadalajara, Mexico operated by the American electronics recycler Belmont for disassembly into components and materials. Some of the recovered parts and components — primarily batteries, LCD screens and some circuits — may be used by Belmont in the refurbishing of other products, and some sold to other manufacturers. Others will be sent to third parties, such as SIPI Metals in Chicago, to extract precious metal scrap.

    Chile needs a program like this one. Cell phone ownership there grew 14% in 2006 to rise to 12.8 million units, a 79.1% market penetration rate. Predictions are that by 2010 there will be as many cell phones in Chile as there are people. Recent usage studies indicate that Chileans change their cell phones every two years.

    Although the Movistar/Nokia program will accept any phone used in any mobile service, it would help if Entel PCS and Claro (the local subsidiary of the Telmex spinoff América Móvil) joined in, expanding the number of collection points.

    For that matter, why don’t Movistar and América Móvil start a similar operation in all LAC nations in which they operate (Movistar in Mexico and 13 Central and South American nations; América Móvil in Mexico, the Dominican Republic and 13 Central and South American nations)?

    — Keith R

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