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
Ebola outbreak: Why has a disease that's only ever killed 2,000 people captivated the darkest side of our imagination?
Ebola virus: UK health officials issue warning to doctors as experts admit the outbreak 'is not under control'
National Orgasm Day: Don't get caught up on climaxing
Watch: Vogue Italia's plus-size models in fetish-inspired lingerie shoot
Ebola: UK is ready to deal with outbreak, says Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond
The secret report that helps Israel hide facts
Land for gas: Merkel and Putin discussed secret deal could end Ukraine crisis
Woman and two children killed by mob in riots over 'blasphemous' Facebook post in Pakistan
A day in the life of Vladimir Putin: The dictator in his labyrinth
Putin is 'thuggish, dishonest and reckless', says British ambassador to US
Richard Dawkins tweets: 'Date rape is bad, stranger rape is worse'
- 1 Russell Brand accuses FOX News anchor Sean Hannity of terrorism after aggressive Israel-Gaza debate
- 2 Pope Francis issues top 10 tips for happiness – including don’t try to convert other people
- 3 Disney heiress Abigail disowns her share of family profits in West Bank company
- 4 The secret report that helps Israel hide facts
- 5 Israel's propaganda machine is finally starting to misfire
- < Previous
- Next >
iJobs Gadgets & Tech
£35000 - £40000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: .Mid Level V...
£40000 - £45000 per annum + Competitive Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Dig...
£50000 - £60000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: An absolutely o...
£45000 - £60000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: PHP Develope...