How much does your mobile phone impact the environment?

Are you reading this on your mobile phone? Is it next to you, perhaps in your pocket? The truth is, a lot of us have our phones within a 5m radius of our person at all times. Very rarely will we leave it in another room, let alone leave the house without it. Mobiles began as a simple tool to help communicate with others, but now, they’re like a third arm. 14 billion handsets have been produced over the years, it’s true that we’re more connected than ever, but most of us have disconnected from the mobile phone e-waste that this has caused. It’s time to plug in.

Your phone is no longer just a way to communicate; it’s your watch, camera, dating platform, calculator, and even a Sat Nav all rolled into one. We heavily invest in our phones, not just in terms of money but personal information too. Most of us use them as a means to pay in shops these days or to store vital bits of information we might otherwise forget.

As it’s such an essential part of our personal lives, many of us are wanting the latest models with all the up to date bells and whistles. However, as we know, with every luxury, there comes a price and not just the one on your bank account. We’re talking about the environmental impact of your mobiles phones from years gone by.

What is the impact of your old mobile phones e-waste?

It’s fair to say that awareness for recycling e-waste has increased slowly but surely over time. But what happened to all those mobiles that were thrown away before we realised their impact?

Do you remember your first mobile phone? Big buttons, antennas, polyphonic ringtones, maybe it had a screen, perhaps not. But more importantly, it’s still out there. Just because you threw it out years ago, doesn’t mean it evaporated.

Mobile phones are built to last, especially those old Nokia models! The materials used to create phones range from copper to aluminium and lithium to cobalt, all precious resources, but together they make a mixture that is extremely dangerous in landfills. Together they create a concoction that when put into landfill, becomes toxic, allowing it to seep down into the surrounding soils and waterways—damaging our environment immensely. Not quite the healthy cocktail our planet needs.

What are the benefits of recycling mobile phone e-waste?

Although our old mobile phones become reasonably useless to us after we’ve upgraded (except as an emergency phone for when you inevitably drop it in the loo), they can still positively impact the environment. They have 80% recyclable materials, so now is the time to get them to your nearest recycling point.

Recycling 100 million smartphones could generate enough energy to power 25,000 homes for a year. Not to mention the precious metals that would be saved from landfill; gold, silver and copper, finite resources that can be repurposed for new technology. There’s a lot of potential in recycling mobile phones; it’s time to utilise what we have instead of casting it aside as if it is useless.

How to recycle mobile phones

Most phone contracts are 2 years long, which means you’ll probably remember what happened to your last handset. Did you trade it in with the phone shop, or is it lying around in your home somewhere? If you have handsets in your home but no need for them, it’s time to recycle.

Luckily, it’s never been easier to recycle e-waste. Check out our blog ‘How to recycle e-waste’ if you’re unsure and get yourself down to your local recycling point. Be sure to check out next week’s blog where we’ll help you get off the mobile phone contract-renewal train.

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