Norwegian mobile phone recycling falters

Environmental group claims collection rate failing to live up to expectations as sales boom

Despite enacting legislation requiring take-back and recycling of waste electrical and electronic equipment (ENDS Daily 16 March 1998), Norway has a dismal record in collecting old mobile phones, an environmental group has claimed.

In its newsletter, N&M Bulletin, The Norwegian Society for Nature Conservation (NNV) estimates current new mobile phone sales at 1.5m per year and predicts that total sales since 1994 will reach 5.7m by the end of this year, or more than one phone for each of Norway's 4.5m inhabitants. Nevertheless, only about 25,000 mobiles per year are being returned for recycling, it says.

"I can but heave a sigh", a spokesperson for the Norwegian Pollution Control Authority (SFT) told N&M Bulletin when challenged with these figures.

According to Ole Viggo Svendsen of the recycling firm El-retur, the return rate for other small electrical and electronic products - toothbrushes, drills, toys, alarm clocks, hair-dryers - is also low. "I think people hesitate to discard certain things", Mr Svendsen said. "They think that somehow or other they can get them repaired. It's a kind of meaningless hoarding. Either that or they go straight into the bin, which is even worse."

A nation-wide mobile phone collection scheme was set up in Norway in 1998 (ENDS Daily 24 March 1998).

Follow Up:
NNV, tel: +47 22 40 24 00; El-retur, tel: +47 23 06 07 40.

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