32 million phones lying around – our challenge

Research shows that used telephones usually end up in a drawer or cupboard. That's a real shame, as a telephone contains all kinds of valuable raw materials, such as copper, gold and silver. For each new mobile phone that is manufactured more raw materials have to be extracted. 

21 months

While in the Netherlands a telephone is replaced after 21 months on average, most telephones have a lifespan of more than 7 years.

Recycling telephones allows these valuable and, in some cases, scarce raw materials to be reused. This is easier than extracting these same materials via mining. It is also much better for the environment as fewer raw materials are needed and there is less waste. A good reason, therefore, to hand in your old telephone!


  • 18-24 months: average number of months before a mobile phone is replaced
  • 32 million: number of old telephones lying around in the Netherlands
  • A used mobile phone rarely ends up in the bin. According to ICT~Milieu 50.000 phones have been collected via the municipal recycling centre
  • 93% of a mobile phone can be recycled
  • 20x as much gold can be extracted from a tonne of mobile phones as from a tonne of gold ore
  • All the unused telephones in the Netherlands contain 14 million euros worth of gold and silver

In January 2012 the European Parliament adopted a directive (WEEE) that aims to reduce electronic waste: 65%-85% of electronic waste must be collected by 2019.

Read the response of Bas van Abel of FairPhone