French-owned mobile telecoms operator Orange has partnered with Emmaüs International to launch the fifth mobile collection facility in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.
To mark the event, Orange said that 10 tonnes of mobile waste loaded in a container would leave Abidjan for recycling in France. The first of these dismantling and collection facilities for mobile phones was launched in Burkina Faso in March 2010. Others followed in Niger, Madagascar and Benin.
Mobile devices use is growing fast in Africa. It is also becoming a major environmental issue, according to Orange.
Already, 500 million mobile devices are in active use in the continent. Millions of discarded handsets, which are often simply thrown away or burned due to the lack of recycling facilities in the majority of African countries, however cause environmental risks.
“For Orange, which is present as a network operator in 20 African countries, the recycling of mobile phone waste is one of the major commitments of its CSR policy. Thanks to the workshops set-up by Orange and Emmaüs International, this waste is now being collected for transport to France for recycling,” Orange said in a statement.
Since 2010, some 140 tonnes of mobile waste have already been taken to France for recycling and more than 30 permanent jobs have been created at the African facilities. At each facility that is managed by six local workers, over 10 tonnes of mobile waste is collected yearly and sent to France for recycling.
Over the next five years, Orange and Emmaüs International plan to continue opening up new collection facilities, which confirms their collaboration on this project that contributes to social welfare and local economies while protecting the environment.
“In France, a young company called Morphosis takes direct delivery of containers of waste from the five African collection facilities at the port in Le Havre. On receipt of the containers, Morphosis sorts the waste into different types by material.
“The next step is to process the waste, extracting the rare metals that can be re-used in the manufacture of new products and devices. Morphosis is a particularly inventive and effective player in this new market in France.” Orange said in a statement.
Orange has, since 2009, been working collaboratively with Ateliers du Bocage, which is a member of the Emmaüs International, to recycle used mobile devices collected internally in France or from Orange stores. The collected mobile devices are then sorted into two categories: those that can be re-used are remade and sold in developing countries while those that no longer function are recycled.
Orange has been organizing an annual collection event in France for second-hand batteries, chargers and mobiles via its 1200 stores in mainland France since 2010. The profits from these large-scale ventures are then invested into the “Africa Project” that is run by Emmaüs International.