O2 Recycle creates “Walkie Talkies” combining old phones and vintage shoes

An artist has created four of the weirdest mobiles yet, dubbed “Walkie Talkies”, to show off what can be done when people recycle their old phones – there are 70 million in the UK and 30 million new handsets are bought annually. The designs, created with O2 Recycle, aim to highlight what can be done with these old handsets, rather than being sent to landfill.*


The new phones, created by designer, Sean Miles from iconic footwear that includes a Christian Louboutin heel, a classic men’s brogue, a Nike Air trainer and a Hunter Welly, contain old Nokia and LG handsets sent in by O2 Recycle customers who no longer had a use for them.


The Walkie Talkies are “upcycled” by combining recycled handsets and vintage shoes to create fully functional phones that double as pieces of desirable art.  Each Walkie Talkie performs exactly as a normal phone would, the keypad being incorporated into the sole of each shoe.


The mobile phone upcycling project – upcycling being the process of converting waste materials or otherwise useless products into a new, desirable item – has been created by O2 Recycle, which pays up to £260 to those who recycle their gadgets.

Designer, Sean Miles, the man behind the designs, said: “I wondered how I could make phones that people might be embarrassed to be seen with into something that would give them a new lease of life – which is what upcycling is all about. 

“I hoped that, by turning them into Walkie Talkies, I would raise a smile and perhaps a laugh and create things that people wanted once again. I’ve been using them while out with friends and they never fail to start a conversation, even when I’m not using them as a phone! I hope that they can get more people talking about the need to recycle old gadgets rather than binning them.”


The Walkie Talkies, that are valued at £2500 each, are the first in a range of products that O2 Recycle and Sean are working on together. Miles is currently adding to the range of upcycled products to complete The O2 Recycle Collection which will go on display at an exhibition in March. Visitors will be able to win all the items on show at the show, which will last a week.


The additional items include handbags (so women don’t lose their phones in their bags, the bags will be phones) and gloves that have a phone integrated into them.


Bill Eyres, head of O2 Recycle said: “While we may not be able to upcycle every phone that we receive, I hope that this project will prompt a few more of the 30 million people a year who buy a new handset to recycle their old one. You may not end up with a Walkie Talkie of your own, but at the very least you will get some cash in your pocket as we offer a cash sum to all those who recycle gadgets with us. 

“There’s a huge environmental need to dig out old gadgets so they can be used again, rather than lying unused and unloved in the drawer. Whether functioning phones are sent on so that others can make use of them or they are stripped for their metals which can be used again, we’ve all got a role to play in making sure that phones live on even when we’ve finished with them.”


O2 Recycle, which is part of the O2 Think Big environment initiative, offers cash payments for those who recycle accepts not just phones, but also tablets, MP3 players, handheld consoles, digital cameras and SatNavs. The scheme is available to O2 customers and non-customers alike and will match the price offered by other recycling schemes for old gadgets. All money raised from the recycled phones into the Think Big fund, helping to turn around the lives of young people.



* based on industry sales figures and Opinion Matters research amongst a representative sample of over 1,000 UK adults.

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