Orange commits to device recycling across European footprint

  • Orange unveils plans to launch its 'Re' initiative across its European operations by the year-end
  • The operator group claims to provide a ‘toolbox’ to limit the environmental impact of mobile phones
  • This is the latest step by Orange towards circular economy, as the company believes economic performance is tightly linked to social and environmental accountability
  • Increasing number of telcos commit to concrete climate action goals, finds industry association GSMA

In its latest step towards helping to create an environmentally-friendly circular economy, Orange is compelling its multiple European operations to introduce efforts to repair, reuse and recycle mobile devices by the end of this year.

The operator group highlighted it plans to launch an initiative dubbed ‘Re’ across its businesses in the Old Continent during the 2022 ChangeNOW international summit. Building on “successful launches” in France, Luxembourg, Belgium and Poland, Orange’s scheme will be expanded to Moldova, Slovakia, Romania and Spain during the coming months.

The operator claims the Re initiative has been a great success since its inception in the company’s home market of France in 2020. The programme has led to an increase of the collection rate (which includes recycling and returns of used mobile phones) from 13.4% in 2020 to 22.3% in 2021, according to Orange’s own statistics. It aims to increase that rate to 30% by 2025.

Altogether, the scheme has resulted in the return and recycling of around 1.9 million devices.

In contrast, it cited figures showing that hardly 1-2% of all manufactured phones globally (1.5 billion per year) are being recycled.

As part of Re, Orange: Recycles phones that no longer work or have no cash value; provides a discount or credit voucher for a returned device; sells refurbished phones in its shops; and repairs devices, which takes about 24 hours on average.

Orange Deputy CEO, Mari-Noëlle Jégo-Laveissière, said the launch of the Re initiative across its European markets 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.”

The company added that “economic performance goes hand-in-hand with social and environmental accountability” and therefore it has turned environmental sustainability into “a core aspect” of its Engage 2025 strategy.

In another move, Orange aimed to support the circular economy through a partnership with Nokia to boost the use of refurbished network equipment.

Another environment-related commitment by the telco group is to become net-zero by 2040 – a goal shared by an increasing number of global telecoms players. New data from industry group the GSMA shows that 49 operators (representing 62% of the industry by revenue) have already committed to “rapidly” cutting emissions within the next decade. Additionally, 50% of operators by revenue are also working towards net-zero targets by no later than 2050. (See GSMA Reports 62% of Mobile Sector to Cut Emissions This Decade.)

- Yanitsa Boyadzhieva, Deputy Editor, TelecomTV

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