5 billion phones to be discarded this year; pose major hazard to environment

Estimates are that out of the 16 billion phones in use, more than 5 billion phones are to be discarded this year

What do you do when your phone refuses to work? These days, the answer expected is so simple – dump the old phone and buy a new one. It isn’t just one or two people who tend to do that in the whole world. Almost everyone does exactly this.

Look at the latest figures relating to the dumping of old phones, and you are sure to be surprised. It has been estimated that over 5 billion, among the estimated 16 billion mobile phones owned by people worldwide, are to be discarded this year. And that numbers pose a major challenge to the environment.

Experts, while calling for added measures to promote recycling of these phones, have pointed out that dumping these phones could release hazardous materials in them into the environment. If you are yet to get the magnitude of the dangers the phone dumping pose, these number of phones if they are kept one on top of the other would be higher than even the International Space Station.

Discarded smartphones pose greatest concern

The devices are made of many components and many of them contain gold, copper, silver, palladium and other recyclable components. By ignoring all these and dumping or incinerating them, they could be the reason for significant health and environmental hazards, it has been pointed out.

The WEEE Forum has pointed out that the smartphones that dumped after use pose one of the greatest concern for the planet. The rare materials in these phones if not recycled, will take human race to a situation that they will have to mined again in countries like Congo, China and others.

It has also been estimated that the global electronic waste scenario is alarming, with 44.48-million-ton waste already being generated. And with the 5 million phones that are waiting to be discarded this year alone, the dangers would grow manifold. There are also chances that many of these defunct phones will stay in people’s cupboards and garages and thus lose out on the chances of possible recycling.

Law towards ensuring recycling a must

This estimate comes as a result of a survey done in most European nations. As per the survey findings, close to 5 kilograms of e-devices per person are currently hoarded in an average European family, a report added.

The time has come for cell phone users to realize that recycling is a healthy option than discarding or leaving them at some corner of their homes. To make recycling possible, it will require some strong laws to this effect. As if in a move towards such a scenario, the EU parliament had this month passed a new legislation that calls for USB-C as the single charger standard for all smartphones, tablets and cameras that are launched by late 2024.

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