Of course, several practical questions would have to be resolved before introducing a cellphone deposit scheme. For example, what should be done about phones for which no deposit has been paid, whether because they were already in circulation when the scheme was launched or because they were purchased abroad?
One solution would be to record the serial numbers of all cellphones for which a deposit has been paid. The benefits of higher recycling rates would surely offset the associated administrative costs.
A mobile phone deposit system would promote recycling, reduce mining, conserve resources and limit toxic waste. So why are policymakers not speed-dialing each other to ensure that such a system is implemented?
Matthias Weitzel and Christine Merk are researchers at the Kiel Institute for the World Economy.
Copyright: Project Syndicate