There’s no denying the fact that mobile phones have become an intrinsic part of most people’s lives. This handy device connects you to other people around the world, enabling communication with family, friends, and business wherever signal is available.
With the advancement of technology comes the improvement in the features and increase in the number of things you can do with your smartphone.
Yes, these devices are useful, they have several advantages that make everyone’s lives more convenient. However, they are also a major contributor to the rising volume of e-waste.
Smartphones and E-Wastes
In recent years, there is a significant rise in the price of flagship phones, causing more people to choose budget and mid-range offerings, which are just as disposable, if not more so.
Electronic waste or e-waste is one of the largest environmental problems the world faces. While the amount of electronics that are disposed of each year is not fully quantified, its impact is ever-accelerating climate change.
Potential e-waste is all around you. It could be items large and small, from the screen where you are reading this on, to the headphones you are using to listen to music.
What are the harmful effects of e-waste?
Unbeknownst to several consumers, electronics actually contain toxic substances. As such, if they are not handled properly when they are no longer needed, they can pose serious threats to the environment and the public health.
You see, when electronics, like mobile phones, are improperly disposed of and end up in landfills, toxic chemicals are released in the ecosystems, causing pollution to the earth’s air, soil and water.
- Contamination in the air. This occurs when e-waste is informally disposed of by dismantling, shredding or melting the materials. This process releases dust particles or toxins, such as doxins, into the environment. The doxin causes air pollution and damages respiratory health.
There are also e-wastes that are burned as a way to get valuable metal like copper. Higher value materials such as gold and silver, on the other hand, are often removed from highly integrated electronics by using acids, desoldering, and other chemicals. This process releases fumes in areas where recycling is not regulated properly.
The air pollution caused by e-waste also impacts some animal species, endangering species and the biodiversity of certain regions that are chronically polluted.
- Contamination of soil. E-waste, when improperly disposed of, are thrown in landfills. The heavy metals and flame retardants seep directly from the e-waste into the soil, causing contamination of underlying groundwater and the crops that may be planted nearby or in the area in the future.
Did you know that when the soil is contaminated by heavy metals, the crops become vulnerable to absorbing toxins? This can cause several illnesses and the farmland wouldn’t be as productive as possible.
Additionally, the large particles released from burning, shredding or dismantling e-waste are quickly re-deposit to the ground and contaminate the soil as well.
- Water contamination. As mentioned before, heavy metals from e-waste, such as mercury, lithium, lead and barium, can contaminate the soil. These heavy metals will leak through the earth even further to reach the groundwater. They eventually make their way to ponds, streams, rivers, and lakes.
Thus, acidification and toxification are created in the water. This is unsafe for animals, plants, and communities who live near the body of contaminated water. Acidification can kill marine and freshwater organisms as well as disturb biodiversity and harm ecosystems.
Once acidification is present in water supplies, the ecosystems will be so damaged that recovery will be impossible.
- Health risks. As previously mentioned, there are e-wastes that are burned to get valuable metal. When burning e-waste, there is a higher risk of chronic diseases and cancers to occur. That’s because the process releases fine particles, which can travel thousands of miles. Thus, creating numerous negative health risks to humans and animals.
Moreover, electronic waste contains toxic components that are dangerous to human health. These include mercury, lead, cadmium, polybrominated flame retardants, barium and lithium. These toxins on humans will cause brain, heart, liver, kidney, and skeletal system damage. These chemicals can also affect human’s nervous and reproductive systems, leading to disease and birth defects.
How mobile phone recycling can reduce e-waste
Through recycling a mobile phone, its materials can be put to good use. The gold, solder, and silicon in the device can be recovered and used again. There are even some rare earth materials that can be recovered, saving valuable natural resources at the same time.
Recycling smartphones can also save energy in many ways. After all, the production of new mobile phones requires a lot of energy.
The following are some ways you can recycle your old mobile phone to help decrease the volume of e-waste:
- Give your phone out. Possibly one of the easiest ways to recycle your old smartphone, especially if it’s still fully functional.
Do you have kids who are old enough to use a phone? You can pass it to them. You can even give it out to other family members or colleagues if they need a mobile device but doesn’t have the funds to buy one.
- Sell or trade your phone. If you want to recycle your old smartphone and at the same time earn some money, you can sell or trade it instead. There’s a variety of companies that buy old phones to recover the materials they contain or resell them as refurbished phones.
There are also manufacturers that offer trade-in programs that provide credit toward a new mobile device.
- Donate your old phone to charity. Donating mobile phones to the needy is also a practice followed by many. Not only does this method give the mobile device a new life, it also makes you feel good about yourself.
And even if your old mobile phone is not functioning properly, you can still give it out to charity. That’s because charity organizations often exchange some of these phones with recycling companies for cash to support their programs.
- Disposing your phone properly through recycling programs. There are large brands, such as Apple, Samsung, and other companies, that have started giving options to its customers to recycle old mobile phones and other electronics. You may even get financial compensation for recycling your old mobile devices.
Recycling old mobile phones allows the expensive electronic parts inside the devices to be reused. This will help save a lot of energy and reduce the needs for mining of new raw resources.
To find electronic recycling programs in your local area, you simply need to Google search for “recycle electronics” and your city and area name.
What to do before recycling your phone?
If you are planning on selling, trading in or giving your old mobile device, you will need to prepare it first. This is to ensure that your data is secure.
- Clean it thoroughly. To clean your old device, remember not to use cleaners that contain ammonia, which most window cleaners contain. Instead, you should use alcohol.
- Backup your data. You should check your mobile phone’s manual online. Then, follow the exact procedure for backing up data.
- Perform a proper reset. Do a factory reset. This will eliminate around 95 percent of all the personal information on your phone.
- Take the SD and SIM cards out. Remember to remove all SIM, SD memory, and other cards that you may have added to your phone.
- Write down the model number. If you don’t know your model number, what you should do is to call your carrier.
- Test basic functions. Check if everything in your phone is working. Like the backlight, charging ports, volume control, touchscreen, power button, camera, among others. You should also check whether there are dead pixels on the screen.
After doing your preparations, you can turn in your old mobile phone for recycling or refurbishing. Don’t forget to tell the organization you give your phone to about the device’s general condition.
Although, they will usually test the basic functions to make sure it is in good shape. If it isn’t, you can simply tell them to recycle it. However, if it’s in decent shape, make sure that they give you credit for trade-in.
Now that you have recycle your mobile phone, you are probably looking for a new device you can use.
You can buy the best budget-friendly refurbished smartphones from this website. You can find the best deals for your favorite Apple, Samsung, Google and OnePlus refurbished phones from QwikFone. These deal terms include a one-year warranty and a money back guarantee.
Your chosen device also comes with a full set of accessories, a free shipping option, and the opportunity to pay in monthly installments using PayPal credit.00