Firms dodge green phone law

The country’s mobile phone service providers appear to be turning their backs on a state-run telephone recycling program, government sources told Sunday’s Kathimerini, as millions of cell phones are thrown away every year, culminating in a problem scientists say could be the next big threat to the global environment. None of Greece’s three mobile phone companies – Vodafone, Cosmote and TIM – are currently participating in a recycling program despite a year-old law foreseeing that firms are responsible for waste produced by their sector. Scientists say discarded mobile phones release toxic chemicals which can pollute soil and trees. Last year, the government set up a non-profit company with the purpose of operating a recycling program and distributing profits to environmental causes. However, apart from setting up the company on paper, little has been done to get the program up and running. A source at Vodafone said the company is not taking part in the scheme because the state will not give participants any say in its management and because Vodafone also disagrees with other terms imposed by the recycling operation. TIM said it is not involved in the recycling firm while Cosmote claims to have signed an agreement to join the program a few months ago and that it will begin participating in the plan in about a month. Apart from minor pilot schemes, none of the three are running their own independent plans to reuse discarded cell phones. Mobile phone use among Greeks is at an all-time high with a total of 11 million line connections. Users often dump their old phones for a new one at least once a year. Many cell phones are also passed on to family and friends. Sources at the Environment Ministry are accusing the phone companies of losing their sensitivity to the environment as they dodge their legal responsibilities.