Biodegradable SIMs on the way from MTN Rwanda

Biodegradable SIMs on the way from MTN Rwanda

A potentially significant announcement – made last week but only now being widely reported – is MTN Rwanda’s claim that it is pioneering the introduction of paper-based biodegradable SIM cards in that country.

It says the launch of its first ever paper-based biodegradable SIM (or ‘bioSIM’) cards in Rwanda marks a significant step in the company’s ongoing commitment to protect the planet and promote sustainable business practices. This is in addition to its eSIM offering.

As MTN Rwanda, the largest telecommunications company in Rwanda with an estimated 7.4 million subscribers, points out, globally 430 million tonnes of plastics are produced annually, with 2,000 garbage trucks full of plastic dumped into our oceans, rivers, and lakes every day. The telecoms industry contributes 2% to global emissions, with 4.5 billion plastic SIM cards produced in 2020 alone.

In line with the MTN Group Environmental Strategy, MTN Rwanda says it has embarked on a journey towards paper SIM cards and packaging optimisation. This move aligns with Rwanda’s Green Growth and Climate Resilience Strategy and, says MTN Rwanda, underscores the operator’s commitment to contribute to the nation’s journey towards climate resilience, carbon neutrality, and the promotion of innovative green economic practices.

The raw materials used in the production of the paper SIM cards are 100% Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified, ensuring that the materials come from responsibly managed forests, providing environmental, social, and economic benefits. The FSC is a global organisation dedicated to promoting responsible forest management.

MTN’s paper SIM cards will biodegrade with time – hence the name bioSIM.

Since the launch of MTN Project Zero in 2021, MTN Rwanda, under this initiative, has exchanged 23% of its fleet for hybrid electric vehicles and launched a solar panel pilot at three of its data centres in an effort to contribute to the broader MTN Group goal of achieving zero net carbon emissions by 2040.

It's not clear when these SIMs will be widely available, but this isn’t the first such initiative. For example, in 2022 MVNO Virgin Mobile Kuwait said customers will receive a biodegradable SIM card when they sign up.


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