Nokia offers users eco-friendly rewards for keeping phones for longer

Nokia has announced a new sustainability subscription service alongside its latest phones which incentivises people to keep their phones and tablets for longer by offering them eco-friendly-based rewards by way of encouragement.

Called ‘Circular’, the service will also recycle, refurbish and re-subscribe devices returned to the firm or donate them to charitable causes in order to keep them out of landfill, the Finnish tech firm said.

The longer a user keeps their phone, the Circular programme will reward them with an increasing number of ‘Seeds of Tomorrow’ credits. These eco credits can then be put towards a range of global sustainability and charitable causes, such as planting trees with Ecologi, helping clean pollution from rivers with Clear Rivers, or providing connectivity to those in need.

When a user wishes to upgrade their phone or tablet, they can return it to Nokia, who will securely wipe the device before refurbishing it either to send to another Circular subscriber or donating it to someone in need.

The subscription service involves a £30 set-up fee, with phones and tablets then available for a range of prices, starting at £12.50 a month for a Nokia G60 5G smartphone and £10 a month for a T10 tablet.

Florian Seiche, chief executive of HMD Global, the firm which makes Nokia phones and tablets, said: “The desire to create a way to enable people to keep their phones for longer is how Circular was born. Most people have a drawer full of old phones at home.

“This is something we hope to change by providing a way for people and businesses to get the most from Nokia devices while leaving the smallest possible footprint on the planet.

“To do that, and to be truly circular, we are taking full responsibility for the entire lifecycle of our phones – not just making sure they last longer in the hands of our fans, which has always been a core part of our product design process, but also through manufacture, reuse and recycling.”

Tech expert and industry analyst Ben Wood, from CCS Insight, said: “Sustainability is important to customers when it comes to connected electronics devices.

“[Our] research shows that roughly half of consumers in key European markets believe that creating products that last longer is helpful and positive for the environment. HMD continues to encourage consumers to keep their device for longer and with Circular it also means devices stay out of landfill.

“Electronic waste is an issue the whole industry must address and services like Circular are a positive step towards creating change.”

Full details of Nokia’s Circular scheme are available on its consumer website. Burnishing its eco credentials, Nokia also has a comprehensive sustainability section on its company website dedicated to its climate corporate responsibilities.

The Circular scheme was announced alongside a trio of new Nokia phones and a tablet, including the Nokia X30 5G smartphone which the company says is its most eco-friendly phone ever due to its 100 per cent recycled aluminium frame and 65 per cent recycled plastic back.

The X30 is joined in the new line-up by the Nokia C31, with a claimed battery life of three days; the Nokia G60 5G, also featuring a substantial amount of recycled materials in its manufacture, and the Nokia T21 tablet.

Electronic waste – aka e-waste – is a serious and rapidly increasing problem for the planet. With consumer awareness of the issue growing, other mobile phone companies are also focusing on sustainability – to a greater or lesser degree – with Dutch company Fairphone leading the movement with its smartphones and accessories that are almost entirely repairable and recyclable.

The mountain of e-waste piling up in many countries is also causing significant strain on the availability of naturally occurring precious materials essential to these devices. In May this year, scientists called on global markets to urgently increase e-waste recycling in order to address the large environmental impact of continuously mining the Earth for metals to make new gadgets.

There is a clear economic incentive to recycle discarded gadgets, even if sustainability as the goal is not uppermost in people’s minds. There is a considerable amount of gold, as well as other valuable metals and reusable components, on the PCBs and in the bodies of these devices.

Extreme recycling approaches have also been successfully demonstrated. In 2015, O2 created a fully functional mobile phone made entirely from pulped grass clippings from a rugby pitch and old mobile phone parts.

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