These really old cell phones *still* aren't junk... Photo via goosmurf via Flickr CC
We go through a lot of cell phones. And yesterday we noted that only around 10% of Americans recycle their cell phones. That's why the efforts of businesses like ReCellular are such a big deal. The company announced that all of its hard work collecting, refurbishing, reselling and recycling 5 million cell phones last year equated to diverting 1.6 million pounds of solid waste, including over 600,000 pounds of hazardous materils, from landfills. But, as ReCellular states, this is just the tip of a much, much larger issue.
"The real dangers from used electronics entering our environment is only now becoming apparent," said Steve Manning, ReCellular CEO, promoting the progress the company is making for our air, soil and water quality by keeping electronics in the consumer stream. ReCellular's second annual sustainability report shows that they collected nearly 15,000 phones per day, and after doing their best to refurbish as many as possible, they recycled 945,000 pounds of materials, including handsets, batteries, phone chargers and accessories, and paper and plastic shipping materials.
The reclaimed metals from the recycling include 25,000 pounds of copper, 690 pounds of silver, and 75 pounds of gold from recycled circuit boards and electronics accessories. That is a massive amount of precious metals recovered...and from a tiny fraction of all that's out there in used cell phones. Just imagine if more companies and organizations were accomplishing the same amount of collection and reclaimation. It could drastically cut down on how much raw materials are extracted from the earth to manufacture new phones. Luckily more are popping up, such as eRecyclingCorps. The emergence of more companies who can turn a dime by keeping electronics in the consumer stream is positive, since the e-waste problem is expected to skyrocket over the next ten years. According to a recent report, not only will India see a 500% increase in e-waste, but China and South Africa will see a 400% increase from 2007 levels over the next ten years, with junked mobile phones rising seven times higher in China and 18 times higher in India.
"2009 was a challenging year for everybody in the recycling industry. As fewer people purchased new phones, fewer were recycled. In spite of that, ReCellular was able to have a successful year and put in place the building blocks for even more growth in 2010," said Manning. "Our new consumer trade-in solution, as well as the ever-increasing number of companies using our recycling solutions, will allow us to make an even larger dent in the e-waste mountain."
More on e-Waste
Sprint and Radioshack ex-CEOs Launch New Cell Phone Recycling Company
US Proposal for Ban on e-Waste Exports Won't Solve - and Could Worsen - the Problem
E-Waste in India To Rise 500% by 2020