By Sunimalee Dias
With the mobile population now at about 11 million, there are almost one million phone units in existence that are obsolete and could be recycled.
The minerals used in the making of a mobile phone unit can, if discarded, become damaging to the environment. Internationally classified under electronic waste as Mwaste, it is considered to be a hazardous form of waste.
These matters were brought to the fore by Dialog as the pioneer in assisting in recycling mobile phones used by Sri Lankans. The programme commenced in December 2007 together with the regulator and in partnership with the Central Environmental Authority (CEA).
Dialog Group Public Policy and Corporate Responsibility Senior Executive Dulip Tillekeratne speaking to the media said people are able to walk over to any of the Dialog arcades or certain selected repair shops and hand over their old mobile phones. These will be inserted into a polyurethane bag used for disposal purposes and collected at its Piliyandala collection centre from where they will send it across to the Guangzhou province in China for recycling, he explained.
In the first year Dialog was able to make a collection of 12,000 phones weighing a total of 2.4 tonnes of Mwaste which in the second year increased by more than 2,000. The highest collection is from the Western Province.
Mobile phones, batteries and chargers can all be disposed at the collection points by customers, who are encouraged to do so as part of their responsibility towards the environment and the future, it was observed.
He noted that shifting some of their collection points to repair shops proved to be more successful as more customers were likely to hand them over at these places.
However, Tillekeratne noted it was not possible to have collection points at all places due to the sensitivity of the type of collection carried out and the responsibility attached to it.
In the face of certain challenges it was noted that the people’s perception towards their own responsibility to the future’s waste management was imperative and increased environmental consciousness was required.
Another key challenge is in carrying out the concept they are a part of namely: recycle, reduce and reuse while the focal point was in the collection of the mobile phones, which is necessary that it be within close proximity to the customers.