In 2009, 1.21 billion cell phones were sold worldwide, most of which were only used for an average of 18 months. While people have every intention to be green, 90 percent of those phones were improperly disposed of in landfills. This same year, there were 100,000 tons of e-waste, according to nextworth.com.
What exactly is e-waste? Well, it’s basically electronic garbage. As seen on CBS News, Allen Hershkowitz, a Senior Scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council, explained that 130,000 computers are thrown away each day in the U.S. and 100 million cell phones tossed every year. It’s so easy – out with the old, in with the new. But people don’t realize what makes up that old monitor or cell phone and how harmful it truly can be.
What’s Inside Your Electrical Equipment?
Lead, Cadmium, Mercury, Chromium and Polyvinyl Chloride are just a few toxic chemicals that can lead to brain damage, kidney disease and cancer if not properly disposed of, explains Hershkowitz. Almost all of the parts can somehow be recycled and it’s very important to recycle the plastic of the outer shell, as well.
Cell phones, monitors, keyboards, chargers, cameras, televisions, VCRs — anything electronic needs to be recycled. Once a cell phone arrives at a collection facility, the electrical items are separated and powered up for testing. The sorters then do cosmetic work on the phones if needed, remove personal data and load the newest software available for that version. These refurbished phones are often sold to small carriers and warranty repair programs, reports Lloyd Hicks, Program Advisor for Inform.
If the phone is not reusable, it will be sent on its way to recover and recycle the metals in an environmentally sound manner. Hicks talks about the high intrinsic metal value inside. For example, gold from 200 cell phones can produce enough to make a ring and 3.5 kg of silver can be recycled out of one ton of cell phones. He continues to point out that the less mining we have to do for these metals, the better for the environment.
Everyone needs to be considerate of the environment and recycle their cell phone. Electronic waste is getting dumped on developing countries like India when we dispose of our gadgets improperly. Workers burn toxic chemicals off of the parts and inhale the fumes, according to Greenpeace.org. It’s important to get your cell phones, and all electrical equipment for that matter, to a safe and trusted recycling unit.
Because we don’t know exactly how to recycle electronics, we either throw them in the trash or into a drawer. How many chargers do you have in a junk drawer that you have no idea what they connect to? When you purchase a new phone or electrical device and are ready to get rid of your old version, recycle it right then. Clean out those drawers. Chargers can also be recycled in the same manner as phones.
There are many easy ways to recycle your expired mobile phone. There are mail-in and trade-in programs from some local retailers like AT&T and Best Buy, and sometimes free mail-in recycling programs from companies like LG Electronics and Samsung. There are also donation centers across your city and companies that will take your used phones to raise money for charities. Search The Environmental Protection Agency’s website for further information on recycling centers.