Mountain of discarded mobiles grows at 'frightening' rate
Monday 24 December 2007
Snazzy new mobile phones like the iPhone and other must-have electronic gadgets, such as the latest laptops and iPod models, will fill many stockings this Christmas. But disposing of the older devices will not be at the forefront of most people's minds.
Around 11,000 tons of unused phones already sit dormant in drawers across the UK, and that figure is likely to rise this Christmas as people upgrade to better devices. Factoring in old laptops, games consoles and portable music players, the environmental implications of celebrating Christmas with a new digital toy start to look ominous, as most of the older electronic products will end up in landfill sites, leaking dangerous chemicals into the earth.
While reusing the devices either by passing them on to friends or selling it is the best solution, recycling the gadget is the next best thing. Companies such as the Body Shop and mobile phone operators such as Orange have been offering to recycle handsets for years, but UK consumers are still much more likely to bin their old phone as soon as they have transferred their numbers.
Johan Thomsen, a manager at Green Mobile, argued: "The problem today is that people upgrade their mobile phones every year and only a small percentage of these phones are disposed of safely." The situation is "frightening", he said.
Green Mobile, a small operator that passes on a portion of its profits to environmental charities such as the Woodland Trust and Friends of the Earth, does not woo users with a free, leading edge handset, as is commonplace in the UK. Instead, it asks people to hold on to their existing phones for as long as possible and passes on the savings of not having to subsidise a new handset to the user through lower call charges.
Mr Thomsen said that a handset is designed to last five years, yet 100 million people in Europe upgrade to a new phone every year. The company also offers environmentally friendly wind-up phone chargers for customers who want to reduce their phone's environmental impact further.
For those mobile phones, laptops and iPods that have seen better days, recycling is the best way to reduce the environmental impact of the product. EU legislation requires that hardware companies that produce electronic products are also responsible for disposing of the device, and a number of companies, including Fonebak, ReCellular and Eazyfone, have built businesses based on recycling phones on behalf of manufacturers. Meanwhile, device makers are designing phones that are easily recyclable and contain less hazardous chemicals.
ABI Research expects that shipments of recycled phones will exceed 100 million units in 2012, driven by shorter handset replacement cycles, growing demand for low-cost mobile phones in emerging markets, regulation and growing consumer demand. By 2012, ABI expects the market for recycled handsets to be worth $3bn (1.5bn), but the analyst Shailendra Pandey said the key challenge is to revamp the old mobile phones at the lowest possible cost, to ensure a decent margin on the resale.
However with 1 billion handsets sold around the world every year, and Nokia alone shipping 1 million mobile phones a day, consumers need to take some responsibility for the safe disposal of their old devices, starting this Christmas.
Life & Style blogs
Naked yoga: the bare truth - it's already big in the US, and has now landed here
A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
The 10 Best kitchen knives
Angus Steakhouse: How does tourist staple continue to thrive in today's gourmet market?
Kim Jong-ale: How did Ushers brewery of Trowbridge end up in North Korea producing Pyongyang's number one beer - and what did it take to set up a taste test back in Wiltshire?
The food poverty scandal that shames Britain: Nearly 1m people rely on handouts to eat – and benefit reforms may be to blame
US Navy christens huge $3 billion destroyer ship USS Zumwalt that appears as a fishing boat on enemy radar
Scottish independence: It is the English who should be on their knees, begging the Scots to vote ‘No’
Nigel Farage fatigue? Half of voters ‘immune’ to Ukip’s appeal
'Sinful': Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy comes under attack
Nigel Farage: I’m taking on the status quo, and the Establishment’s fighting back
- 1 'Natural' energy drink banned for containing erectile dysfunction drug
- 2 Dylan Tombides: West Ham confirm 20-year-old striker has died after battle with cancer
- 3 Loch Ness Monster found on Apple Maps?
- 4 Angus Steakhouse: How does tourist staple continue to thrive in today's gourmet market?
- 5 Cover up! Mother told to show less cleavage during Disneyland family trip: 'Are we supposed to wear turtlenecks our whole lives?'
iJobs Gadgets & Tech
£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a company that specializ...
£153.75 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is an innovative outsourcin...
£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: We've been supplying best of breed peopl...
£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: We provide business administration softw...