Mobile phone technologies are emerging all the time, with better, thinner and shinier gadgets multitasking better than an average person. But can recycling technologies keep up?
I guess it is human nature to always desire the best of the best, regardless of whether it is really needed. It seems like it was only yesterday that my neighbor was eagerly waiting for the latest iPhone 5, only to find himself a few months later with an outdated technology.
Yes, it is sad, and it is even worse if you just bought your new phone for quite a substantial sum and you are already thinking how you will upgrade it. But there is a much bigger problem here, aside from people having to sit and rethink things about themselves. There is an incredible amount of phones that are produced and sold each year, while most of the old ones are left in a drawer somewhere to degrade, or dumped in a landfill site. Shockingly, only around 3% of the old gadgets are recycled.
But what would be the solution? A sustainable phone? Something like the ever-so-anticipated Google Phone, which will allow partial updates of individual features?
Well, according to UK experts, this would be the way to go. Of course, this should be coupled with new recycling technologies that can recover some of the metals and materials that are made to dissolve easier.
A nice example is the work carried out under the Closed Loop Emotionally Valuable E-waste Recovery Project (Clever), a team of scientists are trying to eliminate waste from old mobile phones all together. Just like the Google phone, the guys working on Clever are developing a prototype with detachable components, but in order to design the ultimate gadget, they are incorporating results from surveys on what exactly is that attaches people to their phones. The components of their new technology will not only be detachable, but they will also be made bio-degradable and easier to recycle.
The truth, however, is that with or without these super fancy cool features of the phones, the technology to recycle mobile phones and reuse some of the metals from the old gadgets is there. The problem is, most old phones stay inside a cupboard somewhere in the house, and no one even thinks to bring them for recycling.
Image (c) Alamy