Ugandan technology firm adopts e-waste management using SMS

Uganda-based mobile technology firm Text to Change yesterday launched its first SMS campaign focused on reducing electronic waste in the country in partnership with Closing the Loop.

The campaign involves SMS text messages being sent to people to raise awareness of electronic recycling as well as informing them of the dangers and possibilities of e-waste. The SMS Recepients will be asked to hand in their dead or broken phones at dedicated centres.

Text to Change uses mobile apps and SMS for interactive and incentive-based quizzes to educate, engage and empower people on environmental and health issues and runs mobile-based Health Management Information Systems.

The firm collects data via app and SMS and runs personalized medicine reminder programs, price information systems for farmers and SMS-driven campaigns.

The campaign, now in its first day, is expected to reduce e-waste and dead phones. It will involve radio shows, posters and flyers to encourage individuals and companies across the country to collect their broken and non-functioning mobile phones, says the firm.

“By letting them know that broken electronics should not be treated as “normal” waste but should go to specialized waste companies, the footprint of electronic waste and scrap phones in the country will be reduced.”

According to the firm, the scrap phones are taken to dedicated collection points as the owners walk away with $1 as incentive for every broken handset. The phones would later be taken to Netherlands for recycling.

Apart from calling for scrap phones to be handed to dedicated e waste agencies, the campaign will also ask people to make their cities clean, to protect their environment and individuals as a whole and show them how they can contribute to this.

The free SMS campaign works simply. People listen to the radio program or read fliers, then send BUGA to 8282 as an SMS. Then they answer simple questions with answers from the fliers.

According to Closing the Loop Foundation, around 1.5 billion mobile phones are produced and sold each year. It is also estimated that around 700 million phones become redundant annually.

The foundation therefore partnered with Text to Change to encourage the old phones by setting up collection centres and also educating masses on the dangers of dead phones. The incentive is to enable people in Uganda respond to the initiative.

Text to Change was launched in 2008.

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