National Smartphone Recycling Scheme – 31

October 18, 2012 in Idea

There are loads of people who would benefit from online access and services, but who have yet to be convinced of their benefits. In particular, even some who have ventured into the world of computing find it difficult to see how the expense of owning a smartphone can be justified. I see this all the time with people who come to social media surgeries. One of my constant refrains to them is that using social media via a smartphone is both essential to ensure you can participate in online conversations when they happen, and vital in finding the time to post in amongst all the other things that crowd in on your time. Older people in particular would benefit from the ubiquitous connectivity offered by smartphones, and from the ability of the professionals who work with them to connect with each other; but they cannot afford to own one, and, even people working in some relatively well-resourced organisations find it difficult to make the argument to their bosses and finance directors that smartphone use saves money in the long run,

On the other side of the coin are the millions of people who do own smartphones but who discard their old one when it comes to upgrade time. I’ve had some conversations with phone providers about recycling phones, but they are reluctant to get involved because of the issue of user data which is held on phones. This is an issue which has been overcome in the computer recycling arena, and I am sure if can be similarly conquered with regard to smartphones.

So, I contend we need a National Smartphone Recycling Scheme aimed at getting low cost smartphones into the hands, firstly of voluntary sector professional working with older people, and secondly of low income older people themselves. We could start with a feasibility study aimed at engaging a range of partners in a substantial national rollout.

2 responses to National Smartphone Recycling Scheme – 31

  1. This is a great idea to explore John. Two questions I’d be particularly interested in taking further- the first is around the commercial value of second hand smartphones and how this scheme would interact with pay-for recycling schemes (which are based on the value of the component parts). The second is, perhaps, more interesting: how does this relate to the UX/user interface of the new audience? Smart phones are largely aimed at mass consumer markets – how easy are these to translate to a new specific audience of older people or 3rd sector workers? Could a recycling scheme look not to just pass on used phones, but to re-engineer or re-present them for a specific audience (and how likely is this given the extra cost)? I believe Nokia were looking at such a scheme a number of years ago.

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