Chess Helps Oxfam Call Up Old Unwanted Mobiles

Cheshire based telecoms company Chess is working together with Oxfam in a move to help customers comply with imminent legislation regarding the disposal of old mobile phones. Chess launched the new initiative in anticipation of the implementation of the EU’s Waste Electronic and Electrical Equipment (WEEE) directive.

From April 2006, Chess will send out Oxfam’s mobile phone recycling bags with all of its new mobile phones in an attempt to encourage business customers to recycle their old handsets. The EU WEEE Directive will make it illegal for mobile phones to be dumped in landfill sites where toxic chemicals such as cadmium and lithium can leak out and pollute the environment. The Directive, which comes into effect later this year, will put the onus on producers to ensure they set up systems to provide for the recovery and environmentally sound disposal of WEEE goods they sell to businesses and private individuals.

Each working mobile that Oxfam receives is worth an average of £5 – enough to buy two specially designed water buckets for use in emergencies all over the world, or to pay for five textbooks, which could help to educate children from poor communities in Mali.

In addition to helping overcome poverty and suffering, Oxfam’s ‘Bring Bring’ scheme is helping the environment by reducing waste going into landfill sites. Phones donated to Oxfam are passed on to its recycling partner Corporate Mobile Recycling (CMR), who undertake a stringent 12-point check on all phones received, repairing handsets where possible, and wiping them clean of data. Once refurbished, working handsets are put back into circulation and sold abroad. Many mobiles are actually destined for Africa where the landline infrastructure is unreliable and new mobiles can be prohibitively expensive. Broken handsets are stripped for parts and disposed of safely to prevent the battery leaking toxic substances such as cadmium and lead solder into the environment.

“Since its launch in 2001, over 95,000 mobiles have been recycled under the ‘Bring Bring’ scheme – helping raise over £250,000” commented Liz Whiteley, from Oxfam’s Corporate Partnerships Team. “With over 15 million phones being replaced each year, however, the message clearly isn’t getting through to enough people – we really need more phones for the scheme to make a bigger difference in our fight against poverty. Chess is helping us to communicate the message to more and more organisations. Whether it is a donation of hundreds of phones from a company, or a dozen phones from a secondary school, every donation will make a valuable contribution to Oxfam’s work to overcome world poverty.”

David Pollock, Chief Executive of Chess is enthusiastic about the scheme, “Chess is an environmentally aware organisation, and we are constantly looking at ways to reduce the ecological impact business has on the wider community. Oxfam is a great charity and our new initiative enables us to assist our business customers in their own efforts to help the environment, as well as raise money for Oxfam. This is a fundamental part of the culture of Chess and sets us apart in the industry.”