Waste generated by discarded cell phones is an issue of growing concern. High rates of use, combined with the very brief, 18-month average lifespan of the typical phone, are producing enormous and increasing quantities of cell phone waste. While many of these units will initially be stored away in closets and drawers, all will eventually be thrown out in the trash and heap up in landfills and incinerators — at least if current trends continue. According to the ever changing technologies which allow consumers to switch their wireless carrier without changing phone numbers, will likely result in millions more people changing providers and replacing their phones in the next few years.
Cell phones are especially problematic because they contain a large number of hazardous chemicals, which can pollute the air when burned in incinerators and leach into soil and groundwater when buried in landfills. If particular, they contain a number of substances — including antimony, arsenic, beryllium, cadmium, and lead — that belong to a class of chemicals known as persistent, bioaccumulative toxins, or PBTs.
Preventing cell phones (and other electronic products) from leaving behind an enormous legacy of toxic pollution for future generations means designing them in ways that facilitate reuse and recycling and eliminate or reduce their toxic components. Many of the most common impediments to cost effectively recycling these products or refurbishing them for reuse could be removed through relatively simple changes in design and manufacturing. Durable components that reduce the number of parts that needs to be replaced during refurbishment. Facilitating disassembly (by replacing screws with snap-on parts, for example) so phones can be taken apart and reassembled quickly and easily. Standardizing accessories (such as batteries and adapters) so the same components can be used in different cell phone makes and models. Maybe we cannot tap the increasing usage of mobile phone but we can act responsibly by disposing it off in the right manner.
- E-waste Recycling – The Right Solution for the Digital Dark Age
- E-waste & the Informal Recycling Sector: How They Affect the Environment
- IFC & Attero Join Hands for a Clean Sweep – Clean E-India Initiative