Admittedly, SIM cards - the electronic chip embedded in a small plastic card - are very small. Although they weigh only 4 grams each, 4.5 billion of these cards were produced worldwide in 2020.
A second life for end-of-life refrigerators
Thales, the world's leading manufacturer of SIM cards, set out to find an alternative solution in order to replace the plastic used until now with a recycled material.
To this end, it joined forces with Veolia, the world leader in optimised resource management. After three years of R&D, the eco-SIM was created. The plastic from which it is made is derived from end-of-life household electrical appliance waste, more specifically the polystyrene padding that lines the inside of used refrigerators.
Using this new recycled material, Thales’ engineers and Veolia’s experts developed a new SIM card manufacturing process that meets industrial requirements and international standards.
Saving on virgin plastic and reducing the carbon footprint
Manufacturing these 100% recycled eco-SIM cards will save nearly 5,000 tons of virgin plastic each year and help Thales achieve its goal of reducing carbon emissions by about 15,000 tons per year. At the end of its life, the recycled plastic from the SIM cards can itself be processed to produce new plastic parts.
The little card already seems to be a big hit, as Thales will supply Vodafone, one of the world's leading mobile phone operators, with eco-SIMs. Vodafone plans to initially sell the eco-SIM in ten countries in Europe and Africa. Millions of subscribers will thus be able to benefit from this eco-responsible innovation made from our old fridges.