It’s that time of year again—the newest version of the iPhone is out. You’re about to get hounded by your kids about how their phones are “no longer good enough.” In fact, you deserve a treat after all you do for your loved ones. You order your phones online, activate them in your kitchen and throw out the old ones.
Unfortunately for you, you’ve just committed the biggest electronic recycling faux pas. These items belong in a recycling bin, just not the blue one sitting next to your house. So how should you handle this situation before your garbage is full of shiny waste?
The Rate of Disposal
If you didn’t have a phone, you would be left in the stone ages. Nearly 63 percent of the world would have to agree with you, because that’s the number of cell phone users there are now. But every year we are hit with the newest, most up to date version of what we already have; it comes from every angle.
Your contract allows you an upgrade every two years. If you’re an iPhone user, 51 percent of your fellow tech fiends use this upgrade. For Android users, there is 40 percent of your population who take up this opportunity. The rest of the users will wait until their phones are no longer working.
In plain English, this means there are countless devices that could use recycling. This leaves us wondering how many of these personal sidekicks end up in the landfill, like a fossil of times that have long passed? In the year 2014, there were 41.8 million metric tons of e-waste generated globally—only 15 percent was recycled. By 2018 this waste is estimated to reach 50 million metric tons.
The batteries in your phone are the most dangerous part. When not put through the proper electronic recycling method, the chemicals like lead, lithium, cadmium and mercury are at risk of contaminating your local environment—that’s polluted air, water and soil that you’ll be exposing the world to.
At this point in time, manufacturers should be held to a higher standard. Instead of creating phones built to last for 18 months, we need products that stand the test of time. Operating systems shouldn’t update to the point that these devices become obsolete.
Take the time to look into your service provider’s recycling grade. Challenge them to reach a 100 percent recycling level. Allow these raw materials to be reused, reducing economic and environmental risks like greenhouse gases.
It’s time to make a simple environmental contribution. When you’re looking into getting a new phone, also try to look into “take back” or trade in programs as you’re getting your new one. If you can’t find any e-waste programs around you, visit your local electronics store (like Best Buy) to find a bin for your old devices.
Finally, do your part to reduce the amount of electronics you’re consuming regularly. You need to take extra care of the ones you do buy. Purchase a carrying case that will protect your phones from falls. Keep your larger electronics plugged in to surge protectors. When you’re finally done using these pieces of technology, find ways to donate them back to your local community. With a little effort comes a lot of change.