Thales launches first "Eco-SIM card" made from 100% post-consumer plastic

Although each one of them weighs a mere 4 grams, the 4.5 billion SIM cards manufactured each year nonetheless add up to some 20,000 tons of plastic – the equivalent of two Eiffel Towers. To meet the growing awareness of the ecological impact, Thales and Veolia have developed an alternative solution that is both innovative and original: the “eco-SIM card”, made of plastic recycled from old refrigerators!


The older among you will remember that it was back on 13 March 1984 that the first mobile phone – a Motorola Dyna-Tac 8000X – went on sale to the public. Its size (25cm in height, without its aerial) and weight (800g, compared with the 100-200g of today’s models) earned it such unenviable nicknames as “the brick” and, most notably, “the fridge”. 


Today, in a strange twist of fate, real fridges have now become a valuable and unexpected resource for one of the key components of our smartphones: the SIM card.


It all began with an intriguing suggestion made by a team of researchers at Thales to Veolia, the world leader in optimised resource management: every year, SIM cards use almost 20,000 tons of PVC and other polymers – why not work together to find a more environmentally friendly manufacturing process? 


After nearly three years of joint development Thales has launched the first SIM card in the world made from plastic that is 100% recycled from polystyrene salvaged from old refrigerators.


Furthermore, Thales has also committed to offsetting the carbon footprint of the other, non-recyclable components of the solution (such as the electronic elements), in order to have a controlled impact on the environment. This will be done thanks to a carbon-offset programme set up by Thales and certified by a specialised agency: Natural Capital Partners, creators of the CarbonNeutral® Protocol. 


"This innovation project with Veolia will support our telecom customers in their ecological transition, by transforming waste into environmentally responsible SIM cards," says Emmanuel Unguran, Vice-President, Mobile Connectivity Solutions at Thales.