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E-waste is a silent danger.. How are old phones disposed of?


E-waste is a silent danger.. How are old phones disposed of?



The world is set to face a serious e-waste problem in the coming years. The International Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Forum has confirmed that 5.3 billion mobile phones will go to landfills in 2022 alone.


Throwing in so much e-waste would mean that many of the precious metals that can't be recovered from hardware waste - like copper in wires or cobalt in rechargeable batteries - would have to be mined, which pollutes the environment.

"People tend not to realize that all these seemingly insignificant elements are very valuable," WEEE Director-General Pascal Leroy told the BBC.


The organization further estimates that there are 16 billion mobile phones worldwide, about a third of which are no longer in use.


These phones, along with electrical and electronic waste from other sources, will grow to 74 million tons per year by 2030, according to estimates by the International Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Forum.


What are the steps for recycling cell phones?

Initial stage: Recyclers separate reusable cell phones and send them to some developing countries. As for the other phones, they start recycling. First they separate the batteries and often the batteries are sent to the recycling departments. After that, they start smashing the mobile phones, and then they heat the smashed phones to a temperature of up to 1,100 degrees Celsius.

Follow up: After heating up the wrecked cellphones, the recyclers process the molten material with some strong chemicals. This often turns cell phones into dust. Then they extract the important mineral products, and these mineral materials are then redirected to other objects. For plastics, it is granulated and formed into other materials.

   3. Final stage: After removing these different materials, manufacturers then transfer them to different recycling departments. And here they are used to make different things for reuse. If they are used to make things that come into contact with food, the toxins are removed first.


How do we avoid this complex process?

What can be done to reduce the e-waste problem? Leroy has some suggestions; “It is possible to provide collection boxes in supermarkets, to receive small broken appliances when new devices are delivered, to provide boxes for the return of small e-waste, and other initiatives that have been introduced to encourage the return of these items.”

But we can go one step further and simply not get rid of a lot of electronics, but rather repair rather than replace.


This approach may seem unconventional. Who wouldn't want to trade in a shiny new iPhone for their old one? But persistence in consumer behavior will quickly destroy our planet.


Most Popular Solutions

If the electronic device still has a good life, it would be wise to repair it and continue to use it, and the life cycle of other products must be reconsidered as well.


Companies also need to start producing electronic devices to ensure that they work efficiently for a long time and that they can be easily repaired when needed. It may not appeal to consumers in the short term, but it will save them money in the long run and help save our planet from the massive e-waste problem.


Finally, for devices that can't be fixed, it's important to think about how you can creatively recycle them into useful and sometimes elegant alternatives.


The problem of e-waste is huge, but with a little positive thinking and some innovative ideas you can ensure that it is addressed in a wise manner.