Discarded mobile phones laptops and tablets have become one of the fastest-growing waste problems across the globe where most countries seem to not have found out a solution for this growing problem. According to Vice-Rector, United Nations University (UNU), the amount of e-waste keeps on growing whereas too little is recycled. There is a difference between laptops and mobile phones when it comes to recycling. The life cycle of a laptop is much longer than a typical smartphone. In 2019 according to a report by a mobile phone recycling company the life cycle of a smartphone is less than 2 years and with every year passing by the life cycle is getting shorter. One of the main reasons can be said to be the advancements in technology and the new software updates which make the mobile phones slower and incapable to perform efficiently after a few years of being launched.
- Between 20kg to 25kg of e-waste is thrown away every year by a Briton. In 2016, 43 million tons of electronic waste was generated.
- There are 7.7 billion mobile phones in the world.
- In the last 12 years, 1.5 billion iPhones have been shipped worldwide by Apple.
The number of laptops sold every year is also much less than a number of mobile phones sold. As per statistics, since 2015 more than 1500 million mobile phone devices have been sold globally. It means that since 2015 more than 4500 million devices are being sold. Which is far more than the number of mobile phones resold and recycled. The number of devices resold and recycled in the same period stands less than 1000 million. So, where did the rest of the mobile phones go? According to a report by telegraph there are more mobile phone devices than people and at the same time more than 40% people do not own a mobile phone because either they are too old and a mobile phone seems to be too complicated for them or they are underage and are not allowed by their parents to own a mobile phone.
Three reasons for mobile phones not being recycled is highlighted by a mobile phones recycling company based in the UK.
- People do not realise how much value a broken mobile phone holds or even an old mobile phone holds. Most of the times they underestimate the value and don’t even try selling their old mobile phone.
- People are hesitant to sell their old mobile phones because they are scared and do not want their data to be leaked into the wrong hands.
- The process of selling is too time-consuming and sometimes it’s not worth the effort and eventually, the mobile phone ends up collecting dirt in a drawer.
Broken mobile phones hold a lot of value as long as they are resalable and mobile phone recyclers can still make a profit from mobile phones. Over the years they have been many ways by which one can sell their old mobile phone without any hassle. Selling your old mobile phone is easy if you sell it to a local mobile phone repair shop in case of it being broken or you can choose a mobile phone recycling company who is willing to buy your old mobile phone with a broken screen or maybe some other problem.
Broken mobile phones are bought for a different reason. In the advanced countries such as the UK and US, these devices are bought for two reasons, either to get refurbished and get back into the market as a working device or for parts harvesting. Despite the mobile phone being broken, there are still many parts which can be reused in other broken devices. This is the most favourite method of mobile phone recyclers in countries where the average hourly pay rate is much higher as compared to countries like China and India. In countries like China and India where they pay rate is much less the mobile phone recyclers chose to refurbish the device rather than use it as parts harvesting. But in the recent years mobile phone refurbishment has taken a new turn as there are more mobile phones which are very difficult to refurbish and the cost of refurbishing is much more than the price on which the mobile phone can be sold and most parts which can be reused are cheap anyway so these mobile phones have very little value even with the mobile phone recyclers and eventually are destines to scrap dealers or landfills.
There is an urgent need to highlight the importance of mobile phone recycling and people should be encouraged to dust off their unused old mobile phones and recycle them for instant cash. It doesn’t matter what path is used to recycle a mobile phone but as long as a mobile phone is recycled it will defiantly have a good impact on the environment.