Vodafone moves beyond compliance: for every new mobile phone sold to consumers in the German market, Vodafone guarantees to put one used device back into circulation – over 1 million a year. The concept, also known as ‘One for One’ is executed by award-wining Dutch social enterprise ‘Closing the Loop’.


The tech industry’s interest in circularity-based services has been growing in recent years. This is likely the result of growing political interest in the topic, made visible by the ‘EU Green Deal’ and the US ‘Right to repair’ act. At the same time, it’s also becoming clearer that customers prefer a greener choice, also for their beloved mobile devices. Combine that with the fact that non-recycled electronic waste is piling up in unimaginable numbers – 4000 Eiffel towers of scrap each year – plus the growing unrest in the world influencing resource prices and availability, and it’s hardly surprising that the tech industry is looking for ways to make consumption of electronics more sustainable.


Closing the Loop is a global pioneer that has developed a pragmatic and value-adding service to help ensure mobile phones – arguably one of the most iconic products in the world – start delivering on the rising demand for positive impact. Today, Closing the Loop announces an industry changing partnership with Vodafone in Germany. The leading mobile operator will work with Closing the Loop to scale Waste Compensation. This certified service was introduced in 2016 with two ambitions: to reduce the amount of electronics ending up in landfills in the emerging world, and to help tech buyers and sellers get started on the abstract concept called ‘circularity’ in a pragmatic and engaging way.

For every new phone sold by Vodafone to its customers in Germany, Closing the Loop will collect an end-of-life device in a country that lacks formal recycling capacity. A huge number of at least 1 million of devices will be compensated – and thus will also be collected – each year, as of June 1st 2022. This ‘one for one’ approach means that every person that buys a phone from Vodafone Germany will be made aware of their possibility to get started on making their device ‘greener’. It also means that jobs and income are created in countries such as Ghana, where people get paid to safely collect broken phones.


The partnership between Vodafone and Closing the Loop shows that sustainable services are a way to increase customer satisfaction and a way to stand out in the market. Offering easy and engaging first ‘green’ steps very much aligns with the regular role of operators: to deliver attractive services for their customers. It’s not just Vodafone and Closing the Loop that are excited this service is being scaled significantly. Several researchers, public bodies and NGOs are saying that Waste Compensation could help solve a problem that has gotten global attention for some years now: the enormous growth of electronic waste. These independent organisations consider the circular business model a way to utilize market forces – the commercial power of companies – to battle rising tech piles.

Local recycling

The reason why Waste Compensation exists is because the business model generates fees paid by customers in the developed world. Fees urgently needed to financially incentivize local communities in emerging markets to properly collect electronic waste. These incentives are needed to convince people owning or handling electronic waste to hand in their waste – and not to use improper/illegal recycling. At scale, the model can even fund local recycling capacity. This goal is very much on the agenda for Closing the Loop, as the company had it as its starting point in 2012. Local recycling would allow for more local value creation, less pollution and would further promote urban mining on the African continent.