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ENVIRONMENT

Free mobile phone recycling scheme launched in France

Figuring out what to do with an old mobile phone just got easier in France, where people can now send them free in the mail to have them recycled or refurbished for sale by a charity group.

Free mobile phone recycling scheme launched in France
Photo: AFP

An estimated 50 to 110 million phones are languishing in drawers across the country, since recycling options are not always straightforward and many people worry the personal data they store might still be accessible.

Ecosystem, the NGO behind the project, said people could order a pre-paid envelope from its website jedonnemontelephone.fr (I give my phone) or simply print out a pre-paid address label.

The phones are sent to a processing centre where all data is erased before the phone is either refurbished for sale at Emmaus charity shops, or in the majority of cases (83 percent) broken down for recyling and the removal of the most polluting components.

Ecosystem said on Monday that it plans to distribute 100 reconditioned phones from the scheme during each of the 35 stages of this year's Tour de France cycling race that begins on August 29th.

The project is an expansion of the nonprofit's main electronics recycling programmes that aim to keep appliances and other devices from incinerators or landfill sites.

In June, it collected a record 62,000 tonnes of material as people cleared out their homes after two months of coronavirus lockdown.

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CLIMATE CRISIS

Scorching summer was France’s second hottest on record

Three heatwaves since June produced France's second-hottest summer since records began in 1900, the Météo France weather service said on Tuesday, warning that scorching temperatures will be increasingly common as the climate crisis intensifies.

Scorching summer was France's second hottest on record

With 33 days of extreme heat overall, average temperatures for June, July and August were 2.3C above normal for the period of 1991-2020.

It was surpassed only by the 2003 heatwave that caught much of France unprepared for prolonged scorching conditions, leading to nearly 15,000 heat-related deaths, mainly among the elderly.

Data is not yet available for heat-related deaths this summer, but it is likely to be significantly lower than 15,000 thanks to preventative measures taken by local and national authorities. 

Most experts attribute the rising temperatures to the climate crisis, with Météo France noting that over the past eight summers in France, six have been among the 10-hottest ever.

By 2050, “we expect that around half of summer seasons will be at comparable temperatures, if not higher,” even if greenhouse gas emissions are contained, the agency’s research director Samuel Morin said at a press conference.

The heat helped drive a series of wildfires across France this summer, in particular a huge blaze in the southwest that burned for more than a month and blackened 20,000 hectares. 

Unusually, wildfires also broke out even in the normally cooler north of the country, and in total an area five times the size of Paris burned over the summer. 

Adding to the misery was a record drought that required widespread limits on water use, with July the driest month since 1961 – many areas still have water restrictions in place.

MAP: Where in France are there water restrictions and what do they mean?

Forecasters have also warned that autumn storms around the Mediterranean – a regular event as air temperatures cool – will be unusually intense this year because of the very high summer temperatures. A storm that hit the island of Corsica in mid August claimed six lives. 

“The summer we’ve just been through is a powerful call to order,” Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said on Monday, laying out her priorities for an “ecological planning” programme to guide France’s efforts against climate change.

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