Brits Get Good Money For Recycling Phones. Many Don't Bother.


Image credit: O2 Recycle

Oh dear, recent news has not been kind to the people of my homeland. Not only are many of my fellow Brits too lazy to insulate or switch energy suppliers. According to one cell phone recycling program, their too lazy to recycle their phones and other gadgets—even when they could make UK£85 (about US$140) for each item!The O2 Recycle program, run by the O2 cell phone network provider, accepts all kinds of phones, games consoles and mp3 players, and pays out as much as UK£260 in actual money—not credit. Yet, the organization claims, many Brits are either unaware or unmotivated to take advantage of such schemes:

Surprisingly more than 17.5million of these gadgets are thrown out each year, each with the potential to earn an estimated £85 for each - but just 16% of consumers take advantage of such schemes in favour of binning them, giving them away or taking them to the tip. The research points to a number of reasons for Brits recycling reluctance, including:

  • Almost a third (31%) who are not aware that the services exist

  • One on six (16%) who think that recycling is not worth it

  • Almost one in ten (9%) can't be bothered

Much has been written about RecycleBank and other programs that pay people to do the right thing. But this is yet one more example that money alone is not enough to overcome behavioral inertia. We also have to make schemes visible, accessible and easy to use. And, as shown by the astounding success rates of some pay-as-you-throw trash schemes, we have to make throwing stuff away more expensive too.

More on Economic Incentives for Recycling
RecycleBank Program Goes to Europe
Pay-As-You-Throw Cuts Landfill Waste in Half
Government Moves Against Pay-As-You-Throw Trash Collection

Tags: Economics | Recycling | United Kingdom | Zero Waste

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