Disposal of old mobile phones

How-To

Dangers of disposing

When you look at a computer or cell phone, it doesn’t seem to be dangerous. Typically, only the outer casing you are able to see, but it’s what’s inside that is a threat to the environment, people and animals. Electronic products are packed with heavy metals, semi-metals and various chemical compounds that can leak into soil and become hazardous. Things like lead, mercury, copper, barium, nickel and even arsenic are all present within a variety of electronic products. As they’re being thrown away or placed in the landfills, the products often break which can cause the hazardous materials to come out.

These metals and chemicals may not have much of a risk in very small doses, because as they are taken in by the body, it works to get rid of them. However, if they are taken in faster than the body can dispose of them, they can be a big risk. Many of these chemicals and metals are known causes of serious health conditions like cancer, diabetes, , damaged organs and more.

Who is at risk?

Children are especially vulnerable to the health risks that may result from e-waste exposure and, therefore, need more specific protection. As they are still growing, children’s intake of air, water and food is largely increased compared to adults, and with that, the risk of hazardous chemical absorption. Furthermore, their bodies’ functional systems such as the central nervous, immune, reproductive and digestive system are still developing and exposure to toxic substances, may cause irreversible damage. Many children are exposed to e-waste-derived chemicals in their daily life due to unsafe recycling activities that are often conducted at their home- either by family members or by the children themselves. Furthermore, children may be exposed through dump sites located close to their homes, schools and play areas.

Recycling your phone

Recycling or reusing cell phones helps the environment by saving energy, conserving natural resources and keeping reusable materials out of landfills.

Cell phones contain a variety of precious metals, copper, and plastics.


For every one million cell phones recycled, we can recover 75 pounds of gold, 772 pounds of silver, 33 pounds of palladium, and 35,274 pounds of copper; cell phones also contain tin, zinc and platinum.

Recycling one million cell phones also saves enough energy to provide electricity to 185 U.S. households for a year.

How are Materials from Recycled Cell Phones Used?

Almost all of the materials used to manufacture cell phones (metals, plastics and rechargeable batteries) can be recovered and used to make new products.

Recovered plastics are recycled into plastic components for new electronic devices and other plastic products such as garden furniture, plastic packaging and auto parts.

When rechargeable cell-phone batteries can no longer be reused, they can be recycled to make other rechargeable battery products. Overall, recycling your phones helps the environment massiveness.