The importance of recycling smartphones: everything to know

Sushree Behera

Millions of people in the world buy smartphones every day. They, of course, come in handy for daily purposes and have become an integral part of human lives.

One simply cannot imagine their life without these electronic gadgets. However, when buying new smartphones, it is vital to think, what happens to the old ones? It is simply sold again or kept inside a dingy cupboard, never to be taken out, or there is even a possibility of being thrown out into the garbage. 

Recycling smartphones is something that has become imperative as the world moves towards environmental sustainability. After buying a new one, if the old smartphone is no longer useful, then it is suggested that the users recycle their smartphones. Recycling smartphones is one of the most significant things one can do to decrease their overall carbon footprint.

Let’s start with understanding what it means to recycle smartphones, the concept of E-waste, how the whole process works and how one can recycle their smartphones. 

How do smartphones contribute to E-waste? 

E-waste also goes by the name of end-of-life (EOL) electronic waste. Smartphones are one of the significant contributors to this kind of waste. E-waste is a formidable threat to the environment one lives in, and it includes a list of many old electronic devices which are worn out or nearing the end of their life. As previously stated, these devices are either locked up inside a cupboard or thrown out into landfills. 

The highest quantity of E-waste ever recorded was in 2019, with a whopping 53.6 million metric tons of garbage. Compact tech devices like smartphones made up almost 5 million metric tons of this gigantic total. E-waste is extremely harmful to the earth’s environment and human problems; it can cause dangerous conditions like pulmonary and cardiovascular diseases. 

Smartphones are often upgraded as brands release new models and features. It’s hard to keep one’s money simply in the pocket. Most consumers, however, do not consider properly taking care of their old phones after making a new purchase, leading to irresponsible disposal of the old phone.

Another vital point to note is that smartphones contain dangerous materials like lead, mercury, etc, so they need to be disposed of safely. Recycling smartphones is one of the best ways to reduce the negative environmental impact. 

Despite the government taking several actions to minimise this damage, the quantity of E-waste going out there hasn’t been mitigated. The responsibility rests in the hands of smartphone users who are mindful and take significant measures to recycle smartphones.

Read more: Recycling is not always good for the environment: here is why

Top 7 reasons behind recycling smartphones

E-waste is a threat, and smartphones contribute most of it. So, it is not a surprise that they need to be recycled to mitigate the damages. Recycling smartphones is essential as it helps reduce environmental damage and health hazards. 

E-waste mitigation

When the smartphones are properly recycled, they are no longer a threat to the surroundings. The devices no longer being in landfills are great for the environment because toxic substances are not released into the world, and it also helps save landfill space. 

Saves energy

Manufacturing smartphones is an expensive and, most importantly, energy-consuming process. Recycling old smartphones reduces the need to produce, helps conserve energy and mitigates greenhouse gas emissions. 

Reduces carbon footprint

Recycling smartphones is not only good for individuals but also for corporate entities as it minimises the world’s environmental impact, increasing the sustainability factor. It decreases the carbon footprint related to electronics manufacturing, application and disposal. 

Conservatives resources

Smartphones are made out of precious metals like silver, gold, palladium, etc. When it is disposed of in landfills, it cannot be recovered or reused. When recycled, these materials can be reused to produce new devices, in turn decreasing the need to mine and extract fresh resources. 

Handling of toxic materials

In addition to the precious metals, smartphones are made with other materials as well. Most of them happen to be toxic, though, like mercury, lead and cadmium. So, recycling smartphones makes sure that these materials are extracted safely and discarded. 

Employment creation

Recycling smartphones is a work. Many refurbishing industries employ people to do this job. As more people choose to recycle their smartphones, the number of individuals required to do this work increases, hence creating job opportunities. 

Data security

In the modern world, data is everything. Phone manufacturers go above and beyond to build privacy walls and software. However, while disposing of smartphones, when the devices are no longer in the control of users, data security is uncertain. Recycling smartphones ensures that the old user’s data is wiped clean, safeguarding their privacy and minimising the risk of data violation. 

How can you recycle your smartphone? 

These days, recycling smartphones is a hassle-free process where one needn’t put too much effort. Numerous smartphone brands have their recycling programs, and they can be contacted to trade in your old phone for a new one.

The users can check their brand’s website for the same. Many regions annually host E-waste events where people come to donate and dispose of their old devices. The users can consider this as well. 

Read more: Recycling photovoltaic panels: how to avoid losing valuable raw materials

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