Old mobiles fail to spearhead green revolution

The launch of Apple's new iPhone 3G may have many tech enthusiasts thinking Christmas has come early, but what is to become of their old mobile devices?

According to a new survey conducted by Nokia, the majority of mobile phones destined for the recycling bin is staggeringly low.

The telecommunications corporation conducted interviews with 6,500 people in 13 countries and found that only three per cent of people actually recycle their mobile phones once they no longer have a need for them.

Up to four per cent of respondents throw their mobiles into landfills, while 44 per cent of people are keeping them in their homes, unused.

Globally, 74 per cent of consumers said they do not think about recycling their phones, despite the fact that 72 per cent believe that recycling makes a difference to the environment.

More worryingly, Nokia found that nearly half of all respondents did not even realise that it was possible to recycle a mobile phone device once it has become obsolete.

"Many people are simply unaware that these old and unused mobiles lying around in drawers can be recycled or how to do this," said Nokia's director of environmental affairs Markus Terho.

According to Terho, if each of the three billion people owning mobiles brought back just one unused device up to 240,000 tonnes of raw materials could be saved and greenhouse gasses could be reduced to the same effect as taking four million cars off the road.

"By working together, small individual actions could add up to make a big difference," added Terho.

The survey also found that one quarter of respondents are passing on their old phones to friends or family, and 16 per cent of people are selling their used devices.