Almost every year, Apple makes a new iPhone. Have you ever wondered where the old ones go? It is human nature to always want something better, advanced and newer. Moreover the latest phones come with better and more features and applications compared to the old ones.
Mobile phones are made of chemicals and precious metals. If you just dispose them off, these chemicals can be harmful to the environment and people at large. Also, if you have to extract more chemicals each time new phones are manufactured, then you deplete the environment. For these reasons, mobile phones have to be recycled.
We have detailed other reasons why we recycle phones below. Get comfortable and read on.
What Is Phone Recycling?
Phone recycling is the process of reusing chemicals and plastics from old phones into making newer phones. Do you know in the US, electronic scrap constitutes 70% of the overall toxic waste that clogs landfills and water bodies?
Moreover, an average phone has a life span of 24 months? So how many phones are being discarded in favor of newer ones? Millions. If all these get dumped in landfills, water bodies, etc., they will deplete the soil of its nutrients.
How Is Mobile Phone Recycling Done?
Mobile phone recycling is done in two categories; phones can be refurbished and resold to end users while others with no value will be recycled for their precious metals. Recyclers usually have specific points where they pick E-waste in bulk like LES Ecology in the US.
In metropolitan areas, building managers work with recyclers and collect E-waste in bulk. From here, they are taken to designated places for recycling. Usually garbage trucks will pick the gathered E-waste and take it to facilities that demolish them.
They use sledgehammers and human workers to shred the mobile phones and sift them using machines which sort precious metals and plastics from junk.
After getting the precious minerals, it is pounded into dust. Plastics and pounded metals are then packed into bags and sold to smelting operations or disposed of safely.
Even though this scenario doesn’t eliminate environmental degradation and health effects, at least it minimizes clogging landfills with large volume mobile phones.
The best way would be for phone manufacturers to stop using hazardous materials altogether. It's better for companies to adopt sustainable alternatives for manufacturing mobile phones.
Why Recycle Mobile Phones
Avoid Environmental Degradation
Most phones when no longer useful to the owner, they will toss them away in the trash bin. If everyone that gets an old phone disposes of them this way, they will end up in landfills, clogging water bodies and incinerators. They will them emit dangerous gases into the air.
Mobile phones are made of hazardous metals like lead, aluminum, chlorine, mercury and others that are harmful when breathed in.
Also, when these old phones are burnt in incinerators, they will emit dangerous gases that deplete the ozone layer hence exposing us to dangerous ultraviolet light known to be cancerous among other phone recycling benefits.
Some phone parts like chip and mother board are known to use a lot of energy when manufacturing. Therefore, when you recycle these phones, energy consumption will be less compared to manufacturing a new phone from scratch.
Mobile phone chips and motherboards are made of precious metals that are mined at a high cost. Therefore, recycling phones saves energy that can be used in production elsewhere.
Conserves Resources and the Environment
Phones are made of precious metals like gold, copper, zinc, coltan, tantalum, and beryllium among other raw materials. All these require significant resources to manufacture and mine.
Also, if every time a new phone is manufactured requires extracting these minerals, it would make them extinct (they are already scarce). Also, mining leads to erosion, loss of biodiversity and contamination of soil.
Recycling of phones is encouraged because it saves the environment, reduces emission of dangerous gasses that harm people and deplete the soil.
When old phones clog landfills, they contaminate our water and reduce soil fertility. Next time you have an old phone, don’t just trash it, rather give it to recyclers.