Recycling plan is a success

An organisation run by the charity for the disadvantaged Emmaüs has become the French leader in recycling mobiles

3 April 2012

A BRANCH of the charity Emmaüs specialising in the recycling of mobile phones has become the leader in the sector, collecting 35,000 a month.

Based in the Poitou-Charentes, les Ateliers du Bocage is run by compagnons d’Emmaüs – people who live in communities created by the charity’s founder the Abbé Pierre to help the marginalised rebuild their lives.

Created in 1992, Les Ateliers du Bocage specialises in recycling of various kinds, but its mobile phone operation has been going from strength to strength.

It organises collection of the phones and then either repairs them or breaks them into components for reuse.

According to Ademe, the agency for ecological living, people in France have around 130 million old mobiles in their drawers. Sixty million are now sold a year. Only about 10% are thought to be recycled, and yet they contain valuable materials like gold, silver and even rarer minerals.

The director of Ateliers du Bocage, Bernard Arru, told France Info that mobile phone motherboards (the central printed circuit board) can be sold for €29,000 a ton.

Les Ateliers du Bocage have trained and employed 60 people to do the work of checking and, where possible, repairing phones, for example using working components from another one – whether it is a malfunction of software, a broken screen etc. It sells 10,000 phones a month, in France as well as Africa.

Where it is impossible to repair them the organisation sends components to a facility in Belgium which breaks them into constituent materials. For example, plastics may go to make road cones, said Mr Arru.
To find a collection point for mobiles to be recycled by the Ateliers du Bocage visit Collection points

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