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  • 2018 Corporate Responsibility Report

Stimulating Circularity in the Telecom Sector of the Netherlands

After the “plastic soup”, as the large amounts of plastic floating in our Oceans are often called, e-waste is the fastest growing waste stream in the world. This is also at risk of becoming a serious problem. T-Mobile Netherlands puts substantial efforts into dealing with this problem through the Recycle Movement. This initiative is an innovative recycling program that addresses e-waste in an innovative way and stimulates circularity in the telecom sector. The Recycle Deal is part of the Recycle Movement in which T-Mobile offers customers the latest mobile phone and enables them make an active contribution to reducing e-waste. Customers will be given the option to sell a device back to T-Mobile after a contract has expired and it will then be recycled or offered for reuse.

Over seven billion smartphones have been produced worldwide over the past decade. After customers purchase a new phone, old appliances all too frequently end up at the bottom of the kitchen drawer or are discarded with general waste. As a telecom provider, we now need to live up to our responsibility and actively contribute to a more sustainable use of the valuable raw materials, such as gold, silver and copper, which are contained in old mobile phones. That responsibility does not stop until the end of the lifespan of an appliance when raw materials can be reused.

The company's approach enables it to work together with its employees, customers, and partners in the Recycle Movement. This is a big step towards circularity in the telecom sector and in our ambition to transform mobile phones into waste-free tools. Hopefully, others in the sector will also participate.

The new program involves T-Mobile working closely with Closing the Loop, winner of the Circular Award, with its unique One-for-One concept. Two thirds of all devices that are reused will end up in countries where there is no responsible recycling infrastructure. Likewise, many smartphones  end up in these countries for a third and sometimes fourth life. At the end of their useful lifespan, they are put on the rubbish dump. In order to ensure that devices from these countries are also safely recycled, T-Mobile is working closely together with Closing the Loop in the new recycling program. This organization has developed a unique One-for-One concept, where a 'waste telephone' from the e-waste rubbish dump is saved for every phone that gets a second life. Together with local partners in Africa and Asia, they ensure that the metals extracted for the production of one new mobile phone are compensated by collecting and recycling one 'waste telephone'. T-Mobile strives to ensure that a 'waste device' is recycled for every device that is sold back to T-Mobile.