Mobile-Box: Mobile phone recycling reduces over-exploitation of nature

In 2012, two Cologne students developed a take-back system for used mobile phones. The "Mobile-Box" fills a major gap, because dealers in Germany are not yet required to take back old devices. Collection boxes at high-traffic locations ensure that the old devices are returned to the production cycle. This facilitates the extraction of raw materials (e.g. gold), and related environmental damage is prevented.

Mobile phone broken. But what to do with it? The dealers in Germany are not obliged to take back old devices. This often means the only option is a trip to the recycling centre. The result is that in German households, an estimate of up to 100 million old devices are waiting in vain to be reused. Two Cologne students did not want to accept this, and in 2012 they designed a take-back system to return the old devices to the materials cycle...

Engine for progress:

  • already 100 take-back locations in NRW
  • 50 per cent of the proceeds go to BUND NRW
  • complete data protection regarding used devices
  • return of important resources (e.g. gold)

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Photo: Mobile Box

The mobile boxes invite you to dispose of your used mobile phone at high-traffic locations such as supermarkets and public institutions. The boxes provide information about their proper disposal and the associated contribution to environmental protection.

Information flyers make the environmental impact transparent, 98 per cent are recycledMobile-Box cooperates with BUND (Friends of the Earth Germany). Each collection partner receives a collection box, which is placed in environment centres, supermarkets and public facilities such as schools. Each collection point receives information material such as flyers and posters free of charge. The flyers provide comprehensive information about the environmental benefits of mobile phone recycling: 98 per cent of the mobile phones can be recycled by the certified recycling company, Adamec GmbH, which has been awarded the German Sustainability Award. Two per cent can even continue to be used within Europe after a complete data wipe.The proceeds go to environmental projects, 200 collection boxes are planned by the end of 2015 50 per cent of the proceeds will be donated to BUND NRW in order to support environmental projects. And the trend is growing: There are now 100 take-back locations in NRW, and by the end of 2015, 100 more collection boxes will be added. This is how 1,500 used mobile phones found their way into the recycling process in the first half of 2015 alone.

Photo: Mobile Box

"The vision of Mobile-Box is to create a comprehensive take-back system for used mobile phones. The aim is to recycle the 100 million mobile phones, which are lying about unused in German homes, in an environmentally friendly manner."

Eric Schumacher, co-founder of Mobile-Box

Partners and sponsors

  • Schumacher, von Pidoll GbR
  • Isimobile