Dubai: Whether you recycle for the sake of the environment or for the sake of your wallet, for one man it doesn't matter as long as he can get his hands on your unwanted electronic gadgets.
Colin Armstrong-Bell loves e-waste. that his UK-based company, Zonzoo, has been recycling mobile phones across Europe since 2002.
Zonzoo recently partnered with Dubai-based Enviroserve to collect and find new uses for the millions of mobile phones discarded in the region.
"I don't care if people hand in their phones to protect the environment or to get some cash for it as long as the phone comes to me, I'm the environmental answer," said Armstrong-Bell.
"We're incentivising green behaviours," added Roman Keilhacker, chief operating officer, Zonzoo.
Both men are in the UAE this week to look for stores to partner with the way Virgin, Tesco or Vodafone have joined Zonzoo in Europe. The initiative has been helping people dispose of old phones in an ethical manner.
Zonzoo operates in nine countries in Europe and has plans to sign three more by the end of the year. "We've set up in countries where we know we'll be able to recycle five to 10 per cent of the phones sitting idle in that country," said Armstrong-Bell.
In the next six months he wants to collect 500 phones per day from people in the UAE and in 18 months, 5,000 phones a day — that's just over 1.8 million mobile phones a year.
Finding a safe way to dispose of this kind of e-waste is becoming paramount as the number of mobile phone users continues to rise.
Currently over 120 million phones are hitting the market annually in the Middle East and North Africa with around 10 million in the UAE alone.
Gulf News earlier reported that mobile phone sales in the Middle East and Africa region totalled 34.41 million units in the first quarter of 2010.
It has also become more economical to buy a new phone rather than repair an old one.
But recycling a phone in the 21st century has become as easy as logging on to a website and finding the phone you want to swap for cash. Each phone is valued on its current-day worth, but even the oldest devices will earn their owners something.
The environmental benefits to opting to trade your phone through Zonzoo and Enviroserve instead of binning it are measurable.
Phones carelessly discarded or dumped can leak toxins into the ground and can result in the spread of diseases while a mobile phone battery can pollute 600,000 litres of drinking water. Mobile phones contain beryllium, cadmium, lithium, mercury and silver, even small amounts of gold.
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Want to get rid of your phone? Get some cash for it instead of tossing it. Visit www.zonzoo.me