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Each year a staggering 125 million mobile handsets are dumped into landfill or gather dust in drawers, only 12.5% of electronic waste is recycled. At Sony Mobile, our mission is to be as eco-friendly as possible, last year the company saved 1.5 million handsets from landfill. From factories to product design, a lot of what we do is decided from an environmental perspective, and various initiatives are in place to help us get that little bit closer to our goal, the main being Road to Zero, a Global Environmental Plan, which strives to achieve a zero environmental footprint by 2050.

However, perhaps one of our most interesting sustainability projects is Vive El Cambio, a recycling program in Latin America, its aim? To spread awareness of recycling and UN Sustainable Development Goals. We met Melisa Biman, the mastermind behind the project, who is combatting electronic waste in Latin America head on.

Hi Melisa, thanks for talking to us today. Can you tell us a little more about Vive El Cambio?

Vive El Cambio was created to reduce environmental impact and to get customers involved in the recycling process. We educate people on environmental behaviors, and show how to be more responsible when recycling old devices. As soon as someone buys a new mobile telephone, the old device is discarded, and gathers dust before eventually ending up in a landfill, which can be detrimental for the environment. Vive El Cambio takes these old devices, extracts all working parts for refurbishment purposes, and carefully disposes of all other materials in a way, which ensures they don’t end up in a landfill, damaging the environment.

How did the project first come about?

I started the project myself, and have since implemented it in all Latin American regions and Spain. Customers can take old handsets into Sony stores, where there are now specific recycling bins for unwanted devices. The idea is also incentivised, if you take an old device in to be recycled, you will get a discount when buying a new one.

How do you spread the sustainability message?

We participate in local country environmental events, where we have handset recycling bins, solar panels and educational films and materials, raising awareness of the problems the planet currently faces in terms of waste and global warming. We also teach people a number of small things they can do in their daily routines to help preserve the planet.

We understand you run events aimed at children too, to help to educate them on the importance of recycling and sustainability.

Yes, we recently did an event in Panama called the Fiesta De La Aripa, it was large scale event and great to be a part of. We drew inspirations from the last Sony Pictures Movie, The Smurfs, as we find using popular cartoon characters is a great way to talk to kids about recycling in a fun, engaging way that they want to be a part of.

Don’t live in Latin America? Check out how Sony Mobile and Xperia™ Care can help you easily recycle your device;