Switzerland donates one million mobile phones

Thanks to the Mobile Aid program, the Swiss have donated a million old mobile phones to a good cause.


Swisscom’s Mobile Aid circular economy program is celebrating a milestone: one million old mobile phones have been donated since the program was launched. The proceeds from their resale have already financed 5 million meals for children in need.

According to estimates, around 8 million mobile phones lie unused in drawers in Switzerland. Broken devices are a veritable gold mine as they contain valuable raw materials that can and should be recycled.

Since 2012, users have been able to deposit their old mobile phones in a “Mobile Aid” donation box in Swisscom shops.

The devices are sorted by the social enterprise Réalise in Switzerland. All personal data will be deleted. Functional cell phones are resold on the international used cell phone market. In Switzerland, defective devices are disposed of in an environmentally friendly manner by a company approved by SWICO. Proceeds from resale and recycling are donated to the organization SOS Children’s Villages, which takes care of needy children worldwide.

SOS Children’s Villages in Estelî, Nicaragua, takes care of children who can no longer live with their families or can only do so to a limited extent. The offer includes a school, a kindergarten and parenting courses.

SOS Children’s Village

Social and environmental sustainability

In addition to the charitable aspect of Mobile Aid’s donation of old mobile phones, the program is also important for ecological reasons. A variety of raw materials are needed to manufacture a new mobile phone and other electronic devices, including rare earths, which are becoming increasingly sought-after on our planet and whose extraction is CO2-intensive. This makes it all the more important to reuse raw materials that have already been used, i.e. to recycle them. With Secondlife programs such as Mobile Aid, companies promote the circular economy and ensure that resources are used in their own country.

A box of mobile and cordless phones pictured October 22, 2013, at the Datarec company in Ecublens, canton of Vaud, Switzerland.  Datarec scraps and recycles electronic equipment and metal.  It belongs to the BAREC Group, one of the largest recycling groups in Switzerland.  (KEYSTONE/Gaetan Bally) A box with mobile and wireless landline phones, pictured on October 22, 2013 at the Datarec company in Ecublens (VD).  Datarec scraps and recycles electrical equipment and metal.  It belongs to the Barec Group, one of the largest recycling groups in Switzerland.  (KEYSTONE/Gaetan Bally)
More gold can be extracted from a ton of scrap mobile phones than from a ton of rock in a South African gold mine. The value of electronic scrap from mobile phones in Switzerland is likely to easily exceed 60 million francs at today’s commodity prices.


Most sustainable telecom company for the second time

Almost at the same time as the milestone of one million donated mobile phones was reached, Swisscom was voted the most sustainable telecommunications company in the world for the second time.

Young woman takes a picture with her smartphone during a hike in the mountains.
Young woman takes a picture with her smartphone during a hike in the mountains.


The prize is awarded by World Finance Magazine. An international jury recognized Swisscom’s 20-year commitment to sustainable development. The Sustainability Awards recognize companies that have committed to implementing significant environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) measures while continually seeking ways to improve their efforts towards sustainable development. The jury particularly praised Swisscom’s alignment with the Paris Agreement, its contribution to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and its overall strategy for sustainable development. The Committee recognizes Swisscom’s business practices and ethics, its leadership in defining an ambitious strategy for sustainable development in the telecommunications sector and the issuance of green bonds to promote sustainable and technological progress.

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Marius Schlegel is responsible for ecological services, Swisscom Mobile Aid, WWF partnership, climate and energy policy.

Swisscom employees and experts provide you with up-to-date information about sustainable living and the competent use of new media. The “blue News” portal is a division of Swisscom (Switzerland) AG.

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