Electronics Waste: Recycling of Mobile Phones
Post-Consumer Waste Recycling and Optimal Production
thirds said they did not know how to recycle an unwanted device and 71% were unaware of
where to do this. Only 3% said they had recycled their old phone. The survey was based on
interviews with 6,500 people in 13 countries including Finland, Germany, Italy, Russia,
Sweden, UK, United Arab Emirates, USA, Nigeria, India, China, Indonesia and Brazil and in
the second study additionally also Argentina, Spain and Nigeria were included, but not
Sweden, Brazil, Italy and Russia. Figure 3. shows what people have done with their
previous phone according to the consumer study done in 2011. A majority of the old phones
is kept at home or given to somebody else for further use. Fortunately the survey in 2008
showed that only 4% of the old phones had ended up into landfill, which is a concern from
the environmental efficiency point of view. (Nokia, 2008, 2011).
Fig. 3. Global study at developing and developed markets on what people have done to
their previous mobile phone (Nokia, 2011b)
It was seen that there is a disparity between awareness of materials and items that may be
recycled and reported recycling behavior in all markets that have been studied. Finland,
Germany and Spain reported to be the biggest recyclers, in terms of the range of items that
people usually recycle. Of the 11 countries in the study, the United Arab Emirates, Nigeria
and Indonesia reported to recycle the smallest range of items. Overall, developed countries
reported to be more aware of the range of different materials and items that can be recycled
than developing nations, and also tend to recycle more. More barriers to recycling were
reported to exist in developing countries, where awareness of both recyclable materials and
items and recycling channels is lower. Developing nations have fewer recycling channels
available to them, and that means that it is not as convenient to recycle as it is in many
developed countries. Figure 4. shows the mean number of different items out of 11
possibility people claimed to have recycled when asked. Items that were listed were:
paper/cardboard, plastic bottles, cans, glass, metals, clothes/shoes, mobile phones,
batteries, televisions, refrigerators and computers. From this list the most commonly
recycled materials were paper/cardboard, plastic bottles, glass and cans. More complicated
Related links:

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