Electronics Waste: Recycling of Mobile Phones
Post-Consumer Waste Recycling and Optimal Production
interaction with other players in the value chain becomes essential in closing the material
loop. Naturally technical processes for separating and refining the recycled materials need
to be in place as well as good data systems supporting the decision making processes
(International Council on Mining & Metals [ICMM], 2006).
As the biggest challenge in e-waste recycling is the collection of the waste materials from the
consumers, this chapter focuses on to the first step of the end of life process, on how to
develop an efficient collection process to collect obsolete products from consumers.
Awareness rising is currently the key to successful electronics waste management as the
practices are not yet seen as everyday business. Consumer study is presented to show how
people in different countries feel about recycling and case studies are presented to
demonstrate Nokia’s contribution in building a recycling culture. Many similarities can be
seen in the results as consumers are appreciative of the information on how and where to
recycle their old electronics. The success of consumer collection programs lie not only on the
convenience and awareness but also on patience; systems need to be in place for years
before recycling becomes a habit.
2. End of life phases
By definition recycling means processing waste (e.g. unwanted or useless materials) into
new products to prevent waste of potentially useful materials, reduce the consumption of
virgin raw materials, reduce energy usage, reduce air pollution (from incineration) and
water pollution (from landfilling) by reducing the need for waste disposal, and lower
greenhouse gas emissions as compared to virgin production. Recycling is a key component
of today’s waste reduction and is a component of the "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" waste
hierarchy. Recycling of products made of one material type, such as newspapers, glass or
plastic bottles or metallic structures is already a common practice in many countries. More
complicated products, such as cars, batteries and electronic products have entered into the
recycling realm as well.
Product end of life treatment is not a single step, but rather a process consisting of process
units that aiming at recovering reusable parts and recyclable materials. Every process step
consists of one or more unit operations. Process units, or phases, can be classified according
to their function in the recycling process (Chancerel & Rotter, 2009). More specifically end of
life can be divided into three different phases which require different management methods
and focus, and having different impact on recycling economics, as shown in figure 1.
The first phase is the collection and consolidation of waste, so called take back or collection
in the case of the consumer recycling initiatives. This is very much a logistics challenge and
requires a high awareness level of the consumers who need to return obsolete products for
recycling. In the business environment the first phase can be controlled in a much more
efficient way than in the post-consumer collection. The second phase is the pre-treatment
phase, taken care of by recycling companies who separate the different materials in a
product and then sell them further on to the third phase, recycling and recovery of materials
and energy or even disposal. Every phase has a minor side flow of disposal of the fractions
that cannot be further processed, such as wet cardboard packaging. Product design can
make the second and third phase easier or more difficult therefore having an impact on
recycling cost and efficiency. The second phase is a bit more complicated in the post-
Related links:

Recycle Your Cell Phone
What to do with your old phones across Europe
The First Mobile Phone with a Built-In Camera
Your child’s first smartphone
Mobile telephone history
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