Please replace the handset: mobile phone recycling in the UK

Date: March 23, 2010
Pages: 32
US$ 2,495.00
Publisher: Ovum
Report type: Strategic Report
Delivery: E-mail Delivery (PDF)

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Please replace the handset: mobile phone recycling in the UK
The UK is the most advanced market for handset recycling. Around 8 million devices were recycled in 2009. This is double what was recycled two years ago. The value chain has become more complex and the market place more competitive. The players in the value chain must understand their own and their competitors’ roles in order to succeed. UK consumers may be more aware of the opportunities to recycle phones but the focus is now on the financial remuneration available to them, rather than the environmental benefits.
Executive summary
In a nutshell
Ovum view
Key messages
Device recycling is a highly visible part of the telecoms sustainability drive
Over 30 million mobile phones were recycled in Western Europe in 2009
The UK is the most developed and competitive handset recycling market in the world
The value chain is complex and the role carried out within the value chain varies from player to player
The motives of each of the players in the value chain varies considerably
The majority of handsets are reused rather than scrapped
The destination of reused devices has altered
Operators are essentially funding the handset resale business model
Market overview
Trends and statistics
Higher volumes and more players means a more competitive market place
There’s a change in the destination of the devices – Hong Kong is a central hub
Buying prices have increased, but selling prices have decreased
SIM-only and longer contracts have impacted handset recycling volumes
Mobile operators need to incentivize customers in order to increase volumes through their schemes
Market sizing
UK – 8 million and growing
Western Europe – over 30 million handsets collected in 2009
Nokia survey findings
GSMA findings
Regulatory issues and initiatives
The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive
Obligations as a retailer
Obligations as an importer/rebrander/manufacturer (IRM)
Producer compliance schemes
UN Environment Programme Mobile Phone Partnership Initiative (MPPI)
The Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association
The value chain
Handset recycling is a competitive and complex market
Following the device through the value chain
  Step 1: collection
  Step 2: grading the phone
  Step 3: the buyers
  Step 4: back in the hands of end users
Following the money through the value chain
  Identifying the players and their motivation in the value chain
The mobile phone operator
  The role of mobile phone recycling specialist
  The role of non-profit organizations
  The role of non-telecoms retail partners
  The role of the mobile scrap specialist
Player profiles
O2’s recycling schemes
Vodafone UK
Vodafone’s recycling schemes
  Payment flows
T-Mobile UK
T-Mobile’s recycling schemes
  Payment flows
Background information
  Collection methods
Grading the phone
  The buyers
Fonebank/Corporate Mobile Recycling
  Collection methods
  The buyers
  Collection methods
  The buyers
Mobile Phone Xchange
  Collection methods
  The buyers
20:20 mobile
  Collection methods
  The buyers


Figure 1: SIM-only as a percentage of post-paid sales in the UK
Figure 2: Post-paid sales by contract length
Figure 3: UK mobile phone recycling: 2009 market share by MPRS
Figure 4: Ovum estimates for handset recycling in the UK and Western Europe 2007 and 2009
Figure 5: GSMA assessment of countries with an operator handset take-back scheme
Figure 6: AMTA handset recycling findings November 1998 to June 2008
Figure 7: The mobile phone recycling value chain – following where the device goes
Figure 8: The mobile phone recycling value chain – following the payment flows
Figure 9: Vodafone marketing materials
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