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Orange extends phone recycling scheme across Europe

French telco group Orange is expanding its ‘Re’ scheme, which provides phone recycling, refurbishment, repairs and returns, across all the European regions it operates in.

Orange’s ‘Re’ programme was launched in October 2020 with the aim of providing recycling, returns and refurbishment services, which it says is part of its commitment to the circular economy ‘in all our activities and practices.’ Last year it added phone repairs to its roster of services.

Having rolled out Re in France, Luxembourg, Belgium, and Poland, the telco has announced it will extend the programme to the rest of its European territories – that being Moldova, Slovakia, Romania, and Spain.

Customers can drop off phones that are no longer of any use to anyone in store, and Orange says any profits it makes from recycling them are donated to the Emmaüs International network. Trading in old phones yields customers a discount or credit voucher, while refurbished phones are also being pushed as part of the scheme.

In terms of the repairs service, Orange boasts that on average phones are repaired within 24 hours. Customers can track the repair by email and SMS, and receive a 12-month warranty.

Since Re launched, Orange says it has ramped up the collection rate – by which it means recycled and returned phones – from 13.4% in 2020 to 22.3% in 2021. It has set itself a 30% target for 2025, so it seems fairly on track for that. Around 1.9 million mobiles have apparently been returned or recycled since the initiative launched.

“I am delighted and proud that Orange is consolidating its commitment and its initiatives to support the circular economy and sustainable development by launching the Re initiative throughout Europe,” said Mari-Noëlle Jégo-Laveissière, Deputy CEO, Europe at Orange. “This launch will not only give us a unified insight into our commitments, but it will also allow us to support and guide our customers, and, more generally, the general public with their responsible actions. We offer a true ‘toolbox’ to help limit the environmental impact of mobile phones.”

Orange says over 1.5 billion phones are produced globally and just 1-2% of them end up getting recycled, which isn’t ideal by anyone’s measure. There have been some similar pushes to address ‘e-waste’ from other operators around the world – earlier this month UK MNO EE extended its two hour in-store repair service for mobile phones to stores across the rest of the UK.

Green corporate messaging across all sectors ramped up in the wake of COP 26, and while some of the attention with regards to energy production has been understandably distracted by factors such as the Russian invasion of Ukraine and all the fallout it creates in that regard, recycling phones feels like a practical thing for the telco industry to put its back into.

 

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