Electronics Waste: Recycling of Mobile Phones
Electronics Waste: Recycling of Mobile Phone
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an impact on it. When households recycling behavior has been studied the results show that
the most important factor to enhance recycling is convenience. Improvements on collection
service and design are the most important factors on enhancing the recycling behavior;
together with information and promotion. Other factors, such as financial incentives and
socio-economical features show more mixed results. Financial incentives may play a role
when non-recyclers are being activated to change their behavior, and they are the most
effective when they are directed in improving the community or influencing tax rebates.
(Shaw, 2008). It has been proven that the familiarity with recycling other household waste
fractions, such as glass, paper, metal and plastics boosts the willingness to recycle e-waste as
well. (Saphores, 2006) Improvements should focus on improving the program and
information about it.
The largest environmental impact of small electronic devices recycling can easily come from
the logistics related to consumer activity in recycling. This is the part where consumer takes
recyclable material to a collection point, in the worst case driving to the collection location
without any other reason. An example from household glass collection shows that the
collection amount would triple if the collection box is placed close to the household, but at
the same time environmental impact is increased because of the increased logistics.
(Teerioja, 2010). These suggest that optimizing the convenience with logistics, costs and
environmental benefits is important in recycling programs to keep them attractive and still
eco-efficient.
3.3 Best practices in processing
Even though metal recycling as such is an ancient technology, there is room for the
development. Electronics products are first of all complex, containing materials from all
different material types. Materials are highly integrated into each other, they are present in
low quantities are therefore not always easily separated in recycling processes. On the other
hand each product group, from refrigerators to hair dryers and mobile phones are different
in structure and composition. Not even all mobile phones are the same, so the variety of the
product types and structures in the recycling process is huge. When a closer look is taken to
the product composition, it can be seen that they vary not only on the structure, but also on
recycling economics. Some of the products contain relatively large amounts of valuable
materials, and recycling of these products generates value and profit. These are typically
products with precious metal containing printed wiring board or large metal pars. Some
products contain hazardous parts that need to be disassembled and treated in specialized
waste treatment facilities, like cooling agent removal from old refrigerators. Products may
also be constructed of materials with no reselling value, which means that in these latter
cases recycling becomes a cost. Product design can either help or hinder the efficient pre-
treatment of waste electronics products and has therefore an impact to recycling cost. There
has been lot of development in removing potentially hazardous substances from the
electronics products. For example materials such as lead, brominated flame retardants and
PVC are no longer used in Nokia mobile phones. Typical material content of a mobile phone
is presented in the figure 6.
Because electronics products are so diverse in composition and structure, it is quite
challenging to develop advanced recycling technologies that would be suitable to all
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Related links:

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