-38% of 1000 consumers in the United States who were polled by ABI Research in October 2009 claim to have recycled outdated mobile handsets. Of those, nearly 70% said they had donated their old handsets to charity organizations and received charitable contribution tax deductions. Fewer than 5% recycled their handsets without receiving compensation of any kind.
Of those consumers who had not yet recycled a handset, 98% were prepared to return handsets to an operator’s store, to a charity, to a refurbishing company or to the manufacturer – but only in return for some compensation, either cash, store credit, or tax deduction.
“The message is clear,” comments ABI Research industry analyst Michael Morgan. “Many consumers in the US are prepared to help the environment by recycling their old handsets, but only if there is a financial incentive to do so. Virtue is not seen as its own reward in this case. Operators wishing to present a ‘green’ public face – and the survey’s results also show that consumers increasingly favor those that do – should factor these attitudes into their recycling schemes.”
Independent recyclers don’t have the public profile or presence to influence this effort significantly, and most operators are not enthusiastic about handing out cash rebates. Some operators have set ambitious targets, though: Sprint aims eventually to recycle 90% of the handsets it sells, but so far has only achieved a return rate of about 30%.
Other interesting patterns revealed by the survey: women are slightly more likely than men to recycle handsets; and somewhat disturbingly, consumers under 40 years of age are slightly less likely to do so than those over 40.