In the last three decades, the demand for mobile phones has grown exponentially. What was once a convenient luxury for the fortunate is now a critical component of daily life for the billions of inhabitants. So much so, that the total number of mobile devices have outnumbered the population of the Earth (well over 7 billion) for a few years now! This number is only expected to get larger as with devices becoming more accessible and affordable. It can be argued that, apart from the internet, no other technology has had the effect that mobile phones have had on our modern civilization.
The current trends show there will be more and more devices manufactured, with many users owning more than one device, all of which contain precious metals and materials. One day, all of these devices will become obsolete and disposed in favor of something better, more modern. This cycle will continue just as it has for every other device, appliance or tool we use on a daily basis. According to Asurion [*], 80 million phones are lost, stolen or damaged every single year. Breaking that number down, that’s approximately: 220,000 phones a day / 9,132 phones every hour / over 152 phones every minute / 2.5 phones every second!
Think about the resources it takes to build such complex devices. Every mobile device you have contains precious metals like platinum, gold, silver, and palladium to name just a few. These valuable metals are finite and the process in which some of these have to be mined is dangerous and require a lot of energy. Take a look at the table which lists different types of metals and what they might be used for:
- Copper: connectors, printed circuit boards, resistors, coils, speakers
- Nickel: connectors, capacitors, resistors, shield plates, batteries
- Silver: printed circuit boards, capacitors, resistors
- Gold: connectors, printed circuit boards
- Palladium: printed circuit board
- Cobalt: batteries
- Lithium: batteries
- Lead: capacitors, resistors
- Tin: printed circuit boards, capacitors, LCD displays
- Zinc: resistors
- REE: permanent magnets, LCD displays, speakers
- Gallium: printed circuit boards
- Indium: LCD displays
- Iron: resistors, shield plates
- Chromium: shield plates
- Niobium: printed circuit boards
- Tantalum: printed circuit boards
- Titanium: capacitors
Once these precious metals are gone, the electronics industry will face a monumental scientific task in sourcing materials that will operate in a similar fashion, many of which have no viable alternative. Therefore, it is our duty, as relatively short-term tenants of this planet, to recycle our devices responsibly as many of these components are irreplaceable. Tossing them into a garbage bin for them to end up in a landfill is not something that should even be considered as many of the materials used are toxic and future inhabitants will be left to deal with the consequences of our actions.
We recommend you bring your old devices to any of our shops as we can ensure said devices are recycled responsibly, and in the case we can’t take them, we’ll offer guidance on where you can bring them.