Electronics Waste: Recycling of Mobile Phones
Post-Consumer Waste Recycling and Optimal Production
For the purpose of the study, recycling a mobile phone was defined as breaking down the
phone into its composite parts to reuse in making of new products. According to the study
most have an accurate understanding of what recycling a mobile phone traditionally means,
although recycling can mean many other things as well, such as trading in old phones for a
discount on a new phone, or giving it to someone else. This is an example of the challenges
in communicating recycling messages, as the term “recycling” alone can be understood in so
many different ways.
3.2 Collection
Electronics waste needs to be collected separately in order to the recycle and reuse the
material content. E-waste can be collected on a voluntary basis or to fulfill legislative
regulations. The motivations for collecting electronics for recycling range from economic to
environmental protection and to brand enhancement motivations. The main objective for the
majority of the legislations for e-waste is to prevent it to be disposed together with
household waste.
Collection methods can be classified by the used models and by the persons or
organizations responsible for organizing and/or financing the operations. The following
models are available for collection (Chancerel, 2010, Hai-Young, 2005):
1. Drop-off program, with permanent collection centers or retailers, containers on the
streets, or temporary collection events;
2. Pick-up program, where the e-waste is collected at the homes or offices
3. Distance collection, where the user sends the e-waste by post to the collector.
Collection methods each have they pro’s and con’s. Pick-up and mail-back programs
generate higher logistics cost than drop-off programs. Collection places need space and they
need to be supervised, which can be a challenge e.g. with retail and home. Event type of
drop-offs can help in raising the awareness of the recycling and are simpler to operate than
the permanent systems. Convenience is highest in the pick-up collection, but drop-off points
are helpful in the case when the waste material is difficult to store at house because it takes
lot of space or is dirty. For valuable waste materials there are typically many programs for
recycling them, e.g. for charity, so the competing scheme must be even more convenient
than the existing ones. A study shows the distribution of the different types of e-waste
collection programs as follows: permanent collection (47%), special drop-off events (45%),
and curbside collection (8%) (Hai-Youg, 2006, Jenkins, 2003).
The responsibility to finance and/or to organize the collection can be done by one of the
following: (Chancerel, 2010)
1. Public authorities like municipalities and governments;
2. Private commercial organizations like manufacturers, retailers or recyclers, informal
3. Private non-commercial organizations like non-governmental organizations or citizen
Generally the optimal level for collecting and recycling waste materials is difficult to
determine as the recyclable material, local conditions, technical and operational issues have
Related links:

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