Creation of the first SIM card made from recycled plastic

Thales and Veolia have joined forces to create the first eco-designed SIM card made from recycled plastic. The polymer, a plastic found in high concentrations in household electrical waste, is transformed in France at Veolia's recycling plant. Using this new recycled material, Thales engineers, in collaboration with Veolia experts, have developed a specific manufacturing process for SIM cards that meets industrial requirements.

Main project's drivers for reducing the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions

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Energy and resource efficiency

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Decarbonisation of energy

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Improving energy efficiency

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Improving non-energy resource efficiency

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Emission removal

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Financing low-carbon issuers or divesting carbon assets

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Reduction of other greenhouse gases emission

Project objectives

Promote the use of recycled plastics in the design of SIM cards and thereby reduce the carbon footprint of their manufacture.

Detailed project description

Thales and Veolia have joined forces to create the first eco-designed SIM card made from recycled plastic (polystyrene) from old refrigerators, thereby helping to reduce the environmental impact of a market of more than four and a half billion SIM cards (global production in 2020, of which Thales is the leader with a 25% market share).

The use of recycled material in an industrial manufacturing process allows Thales to replace the production of nearly 5,000 tons of virgin plastic (ABS) per year, corresponding to a reduction of 16 times less CO2eq emissions per SIM card produced (SRP ref – eco profile of recycled/ virgin PS (Polystyrene)).

The eco-SIM card supports the ambitious sustainable development objectives of Thales and its mobile operator customers.

The project has also enabled Veolia to demonstrate that recycled plastic can meet the same technical specifications as virgin plastic, while still retaining its competitive advantages

Emission scope(s)

on which the project has a significant impact

Scope 1

Direct emissions generated by the company's activity.

Scope 2

Indirect emissions associated with the company's electricity and heat consumption.

Scope 3

Emissions induced (upstream or downstream) by the company's activities, products and/or services in its value chain.

Emission Removal

Carbon sinks creation, (BECCS, CCU/S, …)

Avoided Emissions

Emissions avoided by the activities, products and/or services in charge of the project, or by the financing of emission reduction projects.

Scope 1 – replacement of virgin resin with recycled resin

  • Quantification: 5000 t x 0.138 = 690 t de CO2 recyled Egtpolystyrene  x 0,138

Emissions avoided – replacement of virgin resin with recycled resin

  • Virgin tpolystyrene x 2,24 – soit 5000 t x 2.24 = 11200 t CO2 recycled Eq

    Tpolystyrene x 0,138

    5000 t x 0.138 = 690 t CO2 Eq

NB 1: Emission factors include waste collection, transport, sorting and preparation (washing, grinding, densification, micronisation, granulation, compounding)

NB 2: Thales also offsets residual emissions via a CarbonNeutral® certified programme with The Carbon Neutral Protocol, this impact is not included in the calculations.

Key points

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Invested amount

Not communicated

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Starting date of the project


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Project localisation

The manufacturing of the SIM cards takes place at several Thales sites around the world (in Europe, Asia and Central America) and the plastic, which is derived from household electrical waste (particularly end-of-life refrigerators), comes from Veolia's sorting and dismantling unit in Angers (49) and is processed in France at the Froissy recycling plant (60).

Project maturity level

Prototype laboratory test (TRL 7)

Real life testing (TRL 7-8)

Pre-commercial prototype (TRL 9)

Small-scale implementation

Medium to large scale implementation

Economic profitability of the project (ROI)

Short term (0-3 years)

Middle term (4-10 years)

Long term (> 10 years)

Illustrations of the project

The use of recycled plastic brings other environmental benefits compared to virgin plastic resin: less pollution of water, air, living ecosystems, and also less consumption of non-renewable energy for its production (12 times less for polystyrene – see SRP ecoprofile)

This project is applicable to the entire world market for SIM cards (4 times the production of Thales).

A study within Thales is underway to use recycled plastic for other technological products (e.g. banking terminals).

The operation is conducted in partnership between Thales et Veolia.

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Contact the company carrying the project:

For Veolia :
For Thales :

Thales’s other projects :