At least in Canada, most cell phone contracts are for two years, making customers eligible for new hardware after this period of time. People usually take advantage of this and while having a new cell phone is beneficial, it leads to a lot of perfectly usable ones sitting around collecting dust or being thrown out when it could be put to better use and help the environment. Electronics recycling should be considered and below are some of the environmental benefits of doing so.
1. Health issues
While the direct danger of cell phones to life-forms is widely and continuously debated, there is no denying that components of cell phones are dangerous. Mercury that is found in most phones can potentially effect nervous and immune systems as well as cause muscle weakness and memory loss if someone is exposed to it for long enough. Lead can cause issues with cognitive functions and cancer.
Whether phones sit not in use or are thrown into the garbage, they start to break down from not being used and the threat of these components being released becomes very real. Recycling your old cell phone will guarantee that it is in good hands. When you turn it in, efforts will be made to either refurbish the phone so someone else can use it or materials from it can be recycled and it will then be disposed of in a way where no components can cause harm.
2. Re-usable materials
Doing something as little as recycling an old cell phone instead of keeping it or throwing it out means that the phone can be broken down and its raw materials can then be re-used for other purposes. Materials such as iron, gold, silver, copper, tin, platinum, glass, and zinc can be mined from old cell phones and used towards other products. For every one million cell phones recycled it is estimated that over 35,000 lbs. of copper and 800 lbs. of silver among other materials is recovered. This allows for significant conservation of new materials and the energy used to mine them.
3. Reduces energy costs
The recycling of cell phones as opposed to throwing them in the trash should be considered because it reduces energy costs tremendously. Global warming is a very real man-made threat caused by increased levels of pollutants such as carbon dioxide, sulfur, and nitrogen.
When cell phones are recycled, new ones do not have to be manufactured and as mentioned, new raw materials are not needed either. Therefore, the energy costs to manufacture the phones and mine the materials is not required, allowing for less pollutants to be released by manufacturing equipment and processes.
4. Reduces waste
It is important to recycle your old cell phone because it helps to reduce on waste that ends up in landfill sites and will eventually harm the environment. When cell phones are not recycled, they are often thrown in the garbage and ultimately end up at these sites. As time passes, chemicals such as cadmium, lead, arsenic, and mercury leak out of the cell phone and penetrate the soil.
This can negatively affect plants, wildlife, and water supplies. It is estimated that such a leak from one single cell phone battery can contaminate vast areas and over a half-million litres of water and with the average cell phone user getting a new one every 18 months, the potential for a dramatic amount ending up in landfill sites is concerning. Recycling cell phones on the other hand allow for materials from them to be re-used and the safe handling of them will ensure harmful chemicals do not contaminate the environment.