UAE: Virgin Mobile announces new biodegradable SIM cards

Company said it would “progressively” phase out single-use plastic SIM cards.



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A Staff Reporter

Published: Mon 21 Feb 2022, 12:57 PM

Virgin Mobile UAE has introduced new biodegradable SIM cards.

The move is in line with the “UAE’s vision to create a vibrant new green economy that will offer the world a unique model for sustainable development”, the mobile operator said.

The biodegradable SIM cards “are the most sustainable option available in the UAE for customers whose devices cannot yet accept eSIMs”. It requires no plastic.

The company said it would “progressively” phase out single-use plastic SIM cards.

The biodegradable SIM is made from an oxo-biodegradable plastic that breaks down into tiny pieces and slowly degrades in the presence of oxygen and UV light. When placed in a landfill, the degradation process can take between four to six months.

In contrast, regular plastics take hundreds of years to decompose.

Rob Beswick, managing director for Virgin Mobile UAE, said: “Our move to introducing the new sustainable biodegradable SIM cards is aligned with supporting the vision of UAE’s Green Agenda 2030 and UAE’s NetZero 2050 initiative.

“We can ‘do more and better with less’, breaking the traditional linkages between economic growth and environmental degradation … We all need to work together to ensure a collective effort towards building a better future. Virgin Mobile UAE has achieved net-zero carbon emissions for its operations last year, and we are on a mission to become carbon negative.”

It is estimated that at least 14 million tonnes of plastic end up in the ocean every year, impacting fragile ecosystems. Despite its tiny size, each SIM card needs to be punched out of a credit-card sized plastic sheet, which is then disposed of, contributing to plastic waste in the telecommunications industry. With consumers demand for SIM cards, this waste is increasing.

“While we are moving towards the use of biodegradable SIM cards that decompose without a trace and it is a key step in the right direction, the move to eSIMs, whereby there is no physical sim card, remains the most sustainable option,” added Beswick.


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