Many of us are addicted to having the latest smartphone as soon as it’s released and will often upgrade our handset every one or two years. But what happens to the millions of phones we no longer want? Some of them are recycled, but unfortunately, too many of them end up in landfill sites, which can cause serious damage to the environment.
The problems of mobile phones
Mobiles, and particularly their batteries, contain a huge amount of chemicals and toxins that, when thrown away with the rubbish, can leak into the surrounding area. These chemicals can then get into the soil and water supply, damaging plants and wildlife. Staggeringly, just one mobile phone battery could pollute 600,000 litres of water if it started leaking. If you consider the impact this would have if millions of people simply threw their phones away, you can see why we are being pushed to recycle our old handsets.
Protecting precious resources
You’d probably be surprised by the amount of raw materials that are used to manufacture mobiles. These include materials such as common metals, silicon and plastics, but also elements such as gold and other precious metals. The stocks of these are declining and where possible it’s better to reuse what we already have.
So, instead of throwing your old phone away, you should look at selling it, whether you have a Blackberry Torch 9860 or an iPhone – you’ll be able to find somewhere where you can send it to a new home. If the buyer can’t reuse your phone in its entirety, then they can recycle individual components.
About 80% of the materials in a phone can be reused on any old phone, even the rechargeable batteries. If we’re reusing some of the materials we already have, this limits the need to mine or manufacture even more supplies. Reducing production needs will create less greenhouse gas emissions and use fewer fossil fuels in the process. Consider this: recycling just one mobile phone could save enough energy to run a laptop for 40 hours.
Helping poorer countries
These days innovative technologies changes mobile world totally. In the developed world we have the ability to keep up with technology and a desire to have the latest models. However, in less developed areas of the world, including many parts of Africa, simply having any kind of mobile phone is hugely important. People in Africa often live in remote areas where the availability of landlines is limited. Therefore, having a mobile could enable them to connect with people across the country or save a life in an emergency.
Many of the mobile phones that we recycle are sent to these countries where they can be used again. This is a much better use for them rather than hiding in the back of our drawers just in case we need them.
Any phone can be recycled
It doesn’t matter how old your phone is or what condition it’s in; it can still be reused or recycled. Phones in good working order can be used in other countries, whilst those that no longer work can be split into individual components and reused to make other products.
So next time you’re upgrading your phone and thinking about throwing away your old one, spend some time considering the impact of your actions.