A product weighing a mere 4 grams can nevertheless have a major sustainability impact when some 4.5 billion are produced each year.
Annually, almost 20,000 metric tons of plastic — the equivalent of two Eiffel Towers — are required to produce SIM cards used in the world's mobile telephones.
So when a team of researchers at French electronics company Thales Group suggested to resource management company Veolia Environment SA that they work together to find a more environmentally friendly manufacturing solution, the companies launched a development project that now, after nearly three years of joint development, has borne fruit.
Thales has now launched the first SIM card in the world made from plastic that is 100 percent recycled from, among other things, old refrigerators at Veolia's recycling plant in France. Thales engineers have worked with Veolia's experts to develop a special process that uses this newly recycled material to manufacture SIM cards that meet the mobile industry's requirements.
"The example of the SIM card offers a glimpse into the vast field of possibilities opened up by eco-design," said Anne le Guennec, director of Veolia's waste activities in France.
The Eco-SIM Card has a neutral carbon footprint, and Thales has also committed to offsetting the carbon footprint of the nonrecyclable components of the solution, such as the electronic elements, in order to have a controlled impact on the environment.
The company has set up a carbon-offset program that is certified by specialized third-party agency, Natural Capital Partners, creators of the CarbonNeutral Protocol.
"This innovation project with Veolia will support our telecom customers in their ecologic transition by transforming waste into environmentally responsible SIM cards," said Emmanuel Unguran, vice president of mobile connectivity solutions at Thales.