Who could have predicted the meteoric rise in popularity of the mobile phone back when they were first becoming generally affordable around 25 years ago. Since then the technology has rocketed forward and now we would not be without them. Billions have been sold globally. Of course, the downside is there are billions to be disposed of as they become obsolete.
Mobile phone life cycles
It has been estimated that the average person changes their mobile phone every 18 months. Each of those 18 month old handsets do have a useful life well beyond that, however, but although many are sold or handed on to friends or family members (generally older people who are generally not so bothered about keeping up with the latest technology), an astonishing number are simply just hanging around. It is estimated that there are some 70 million unused mobile phones lying around in UK homes.
So what are the options for disposing of these unwanted items? Well, you can get cash for your mobile phone by selling it to a reputable company who will resell or recycle it safely, or you can hand it on to those in need, or return it to one of the network suppliers who have collection schemes in place. What you must never do is simply throw that old phone out in the rubbish, no matter how tempted you are during a spring cleaning mood. There are excellent reasons for this.
Environmental impact of careless disposal
Your mobile phone contains a multitude of components, fabricated from various materials, making them quite difficult to recycle. In addition to plastics, there are metals such as copper, zinc, gold and platinum, which are becoming increasingly expensive on the world markets. There are also some pretty nasty toxic compounds in there too, such as lead, mercury, cadmium, beryllium and arsenic. These should never be allowed to end up in landfill as they are poisons which linger for thousands of years and can easily pollute the water table. These must be disposed of safely, by experts.
Advantages of recycling
Going back to those 70 million unused mobile phones mentioned earlier, bear in mind the recycling potential of that stockpile. Those mobile phones contain 2,380 kilos of gold, 24,500 kilos of silver, 980 kilos of palladium and an unbelievable 1,120,000 kilos of copper and more besides. Almost all the materials can be recycled and reused in new products. The facts are clear. By recycling mobile phones you are helping to reduce air and water pollution and bringing down the level of greenhouse gasses emitted during the manufacturing process and in the extraction and processing of virgin materials. Even the plastics can be used again in new electronics goods, or in a variety of plastic items including packaging and even car parts.
Recycling by way of reputable companies is really the only option for mobile phone disposal in which you can be certain you are doing the correct and responsible thing. That way you can even earn some cash for your unwanted item. Your conscience will be clear that you have done the right thing for your planet and for generations yet to come.