It seems that almost everyone has a mobile phone these days, particularly as they have now become an integral part of life in modern society. Most mobile phone providers' also offer upgrades on an annual basis meaning that the number of phones in circulation is increasing dramatically. Current figures put the number of phones in circulation at around 90 million in the UK alone with 18 million new phones being bought every year. A phone may change hands a number of times before it reaches the end of its life but when it does, what happens to it? Nowadays, it is no longer legal to deposit mobile phones in landfill so you cannot just throw it out along with your household waste.
Mobile phones have toxic components, for example, in the LCD display and the battery and can contain some gold, silver, cadmium and mercury. If these leak out of landfill sites they can contaminate the surrounding land and waterways. Under recent European legislation (WEEE), producers now have a responsibility to dispose of mobile phones in an environmentally friendly way. Consequently, most mobile phone providers have now signed up with Fonebak, a company that have taken on the task of disposing of mobile phones either by recycling them or sending them out for reuse in accordance with the WEEE directive. According to Fonebak, a whopping 77% of the population have a mobile phone and many people own more than one. Fonebak have effectively provided a solution for mobile phone operators to dispose of their phones safely so you can always return your mobile phone to your network provider.
However, the effectiveness of this depends on how many people actually bother to return their old phones. Unfortunately, there are still mobile phones being thrown out along with household rubbish and ironically, most of the phones that are supposedly disposed of are still in good working order and as such can be invaluable for developing countries where buying a new mobile phone is still too costly. So what other options are there for disposing of your old, unwanted or broken mobile phones? Donating your phone to Oxfam You can deposit your old phone at any Oxfam shop or simply post your phone in a Jiffy bag. If you have a lot of phones to donate, they will collect them free of charge. You can find out more about donating your phone to Oxfam along with details of where to send them on the Oxfam website at www.oxfam.
org. According to Oxfam, each mobile phone is worth around £5 to them. They maintain that they've been able to raise more than £300,000 just by recycling mobile phones and in doing so, have stopped 22,500 kg of waste being deposited in landfill. When they receive your mobile phone they sell it on to their recycling partner who will either dismantle or recycle the parts, or if they are in working order, will sell them on to be used in different countries around the world. Donate your phone to ActionAid ActionAid collect all brands of mobile phones but they cannot accept chargers. All you have to do to donate your mobile phone is send it to them in one of their freepost bags which you can get by contacting them via their website at www.
actionaidrecycling.org.uk if you are in the UK or you can find more information from www.actionaid.org if you are outside the UK.
Again, if you have more than 20 or so phones to donate, they will send a courier to collect them free of charge. Once a phone is received by ActionAid they will either sell it on via one of their outlets or their eBay shop for reuse if it is in working order, or will sell or recycle the components to another company if it isn't. Recycle your phone with Freecycle Freecycle works on the principle that one man's trash is another man's treasure and of course this is certainly true where mobile phones are concerned.
Freecycle is a global network of individual groups run by local volunteers that allows people to post details of what they are offering and also what they are looking for. Basically if you have unwanted goods, like your old mobile phone for example, that could be used by someone else, it allows you to find a home for it. Similarly, if you are looking for something in particular, you may find that it is being offered on Freecycle or you can post a wanted message. You can find more information about this option at www.freecycle.org.
Conclusion There is absolutely no need for anyone to deposit their mobile phone in the bin given the number of options now available to dispose of them in a way that is beneficial for the environment and for other people. If you cannot sell or donate your old phone to friends and family then simply check out what avenues there are for mobile phone disposal in your local area or contact one of the organisations listed above.
Dave McEvoy is an expert in skips and skip hire . Read his 'National Skip Hire Guide' for more useful information and waste disposal advice.