Handling e-waste responsibly
Closing the loop at end-of-life means looking for ways to turn unwanted or no longer needed products into a resource, not a waste.
Closing the loop is a precious opportunity to recapture valuable resources so materials can be recycled, reused or repurposed for future use – provided proper handling methods are used. Our product take-back program is offered free of charge to our customers globally in 180 countries and over the past decade customers in more than 107 countries have taken advantage of the program.
When we take-back products, we recycle more than 98% of the materials. We continue to expand our product take-back program, involving more countries and increasing take-back volumes for our customers. Product take-back and recycling remain on the same level as in 2014. In 2015, we retrieved 15,590 tonnes of electronicwaste (e-waste), as well as 856 tonnes of batteries. We see increased volumes in North America and India.
Collection levels in 2015 were just below our global target commitment average of 9% of products put on market, with 8.14%. To simplify reporting Ericsson has decided to move from a relative target to an absolute target (weight of products collected from the market) but weight of collected products in relation to put on the market will continue to be tracked. We promote and offer our product take-back of all Ericsson products free of charge. Since there is extensive demand for products and parts on the second hand market as well as for products for metals recovery, collections are not increasing as expected and thus we have revised our targets to a lower level to reflect the reality of the market situation.
Selected recycling partners
We conduct product take-back with a limited number of recycling partners meeting our requirements and are certified according to internationally recognized environmental and recycling standards. Disassembly occurs as close as possible to the collection point to minimize transport. Recycling of certain metals requires more advanced processes provided by approved recycling partners in locations around the world. Most recycled materials re-enter the commodities market as raw materials. Treatment varies based on type of material and technology used including a manual or automated disassembly process, shredding and refining. Recycled metals such as steel can be used for the same applications as virgin steel. Recycled plastic become products such as plastic bottles while precious metals like copper are used in piping and roofing, for example.
Spreading the word
Ericsson is committed to raising customer awareness about the program, expanding it to new markets. Two take-back projects with the operator MTN in Benin and in Côte d’Ivoire included joint events and collection campaigns to promote e-waste collection and recycling. Overall, 32 tonnes of e-waste were collected by MTN Côte d’Ivoire and 26 tonnes by MTN Benin. In Ghana, with one of the world’s largest e-waste dump sites, we partner with operator Airtel to help with e-waste disposal and recycling, including end-of-life telecom equipment. We continue working closely with our customers to ensure end-of-life equipment is handled and treated in an environmentally sound manner.