Can you imagine people around the world doing it? Just imagine that every second, almost 10,000 people from all around the globe are starting to throw their smartphones in the garbage, just like that!
No, People haven’t gone mad and started throwing out their phones for no reason. I just wanted you to have an idea of what it’s like for human beings as a race to produce tens of millions of tons of non-biodegradable waste every single year.
The huge amount of E-waste that is being produced every year, however, is translated into approximately that number you saw in the title. In 2018 alone, the number of mobile phones that were discarded was equivalent to 9023 smartphones were being discarded every single second!
Smartphone Consumption is Growing & it’s Not Good!
When they first came out, smartphones were a true sign of the tech revolution that changed the way everything is done around the world. Granted, we’ve had computers decades before smartphones came around, but, even with laptops, nothing changed the face of every single industry and trade in the world like having a handheld device that you carry around and access the internet at any moment in time.
At this moment, shops, newspapers, magazines, and even social interactions found themselves a place online to be able to reach YOU!
As a result, more and more people are feeling inclined to upgrade their smartphones almost every year or every couple of years to be able to keep up with the latest features and most premium specs within each individual’s budget limits.
While buying a new smartphone is getting more difficult due to the prices of different smartphone brands getting higher every year, what most people fail to take notice of is the raising environmental expenses of creating and replacing handsets for each current user.
Unlike any other electronic, mobile phones are the most consumed in most countries and, therefore, they represent the highest percentage of E-waste that is created every year. With 1.4 Billion mobile phones being manufactured every year, the majority turns into E-waste.
The environmental cost of making a new phone
While smartphones were mostly made out of plastic in the past decade, there is a significant amount of precious metals that go into the manufacturing of smartphones such as gold, silver, and copper. According to 2010 statistics, a smartphone’s materials percentages are:
Since these numbers belong to a decade in the past, it is important to point out that most flagship smartphones now tend towards having a glass, metal, or ceramic body over plastic. However, mid-range and cheap budget-friendly phones are still made mostly of plastic.
In either case, while the ratio of plastic to metal or glass may vary, the percentage of gold and copper, and sometimes silver, used in smartphones remain close.
7% of The World’s Gold is Being Thrown Away!
While the previous numbers do not include the percentage of gold used in smartphones manufacturing, money.cnn report says that every phone has about 0.034 grams of gold. Now remember the amount of smartphone E-waste of 2018 number? It’s about 9023 phones every second. This means that the world is discarding about 306.78 grams of gold every single second!
Unless someone steps in to retrieve that gold and repurpose it, researchers are estimating that almost 7% of the world’s gold is going into trash without a way to get it back.
Likewise, silver is used by about 0.35 grams per mobile phone which results in 3158 grams (3Kg) of silver with the mentioned number of 9023 phones.
With precious metal and natural resources, especially non-renewable resources such as gold and silver and other metals that exist in very limited amounts in the ground and there is no way for humans to create them, we should be much more careful, however, we’re just throwing those resources within our smartphones in the trash!
How to get the Gold Back?
In some countries, great efforts are being made to retrieve that gold out of smartphones and other electronics. However, the process itself can be too time-consuming that it turns out to be not worth the effort and time for many parties involved.
So, what other ways are there to preserve this precious resource from ending up in landfills as a hazardous waste? Recycling, of course!
Where Do Your Old Mobile Phones Go?
It’s not just about saving all the gold and silver within a smartphone that we need to start taking recycling more seriously, it’s to save the planet itself. Producing over 50 million tons of non-biodegradable E-waste is hurting our environment in every possible way.
Most of these phones and electronic waste end up being transferred or shipped to developing countries in Africa where they are piled up in landfills and burned down creating the most toxic smoke imaginable. At the burning sites, tires and other substances are usually added to the mix which increases the toxicity of the smoke and the harm caused by it to the local’s health through affecting the air quality of entire towns.
Different Ways to Recycle a Samrtphone
Before getting into how to recycle old smartphones, it is important to mention that 80% of mobiles are recyclable while only about 15% are in fact being recycled. This means that 65% of the world’s mobile phones are turning into toxic waste while they can be renewed or transformed into something useful to both people who need them and the economy of different countries as well. Discover how The Fixables, a repair specialist in The Netherlands, deals with broken smartphones and fixes them.
With that being said, there are several ways that you, as an individual, can recycle your old mobile phones before they reach those landfills.
Send your old phone to a refurbishment center
This is different from sending the devices to recycling or donation destinations such as Goodwill since most of these electronics end up being transferred, mostly illegally, to Hong Kong, where non-protected workers sort them out.
If you’re looking for the right, legal, and human way to recycle your devices, seek out businesses that actually refurbish smartphones such as QwikFone, UK. These organizations will purchase your old phones and either renew the mobile phone itself in order for it to be re-sold at a lower price to a customer who cannot afford to pay the full price of a brand-new phone, or, if your old mobile phone is beyond economic repair (BER), Same refurbishment services may be able to use working parts from that phone as OEM spare parts into other refurbished smartphones of the same brand and model.
In either case, sending your phone to be refurbished or to be used in refurbishing other mobile phones will result in great benefit as you will be able to make some money off of an old device, and benefit the economy as you give a push to this business to operate and give another user the chance to get a good mobile phone with easy terms and a cheap price!
Gift the Mobile Phone Yourself!
If you’re upgrading to a better smartphone and your current one is still mostly in a pristine condition, gift that old mobile phone to a family member or even a friend who wouldn’t mind getting a second-hand phone.
While this may seem as the default thing to do for many people, others don’t have anyone within direct proximity to gift the phone to, so, they keep it in storage until it is outdated and throwing it away becomes inevitable. It may seem a bit odd in such a case to search of someone in need of a smartphone to give it to them. So, the only sensible thing to do in this case is to search for a refurbishment service just as mentioned in the first option.
Turn Your Phone into Another Device
The brilliance behind smartphones is the fact that these little devices can be used as so many different devices at the same time. So, if you’re no longer using your smartphone as your main daily drive, try using it as a standalone device for one of its secondary functionalities.
For example, if you need additional memory space to store old photos or files, an old mobile phone with spacious memory storage would do the trick. Likewise, you can use an old phone as a standalone radio, camera, alarm clock, or even a remote control.
Granted, some mobile phone models would need a little tweaking to be able to function as a remote control, but it is minor work compared to the benefit you’ll get!
Ways to recycle old smartphones, whether by yourself or through a professional recycling service, are vast. So, don’t let an old device in your position be added to the pile of toxic waste that is rapidly killing our planet and reducing future generations’ chances of having a healthy life. Take a step now. Recycle your Smartphone.