From: ClickGreen Staff, ClickGreen, More from this Affiliate
Published April 7, 2015 08:57 AM

Lifecycle of Today's Cell Phone

It is estimated that in 2014 over two billion mobile phones were sold worldwide. Of these, over one billion were estimated to be smartphones. It is also estimated that a massive 87% of the world’s population now use mobile phones. These are staggering figures, but how many of us have ever stopped to think of where our precious mobile phones came from and what happens to them once we discard them for a newer model?

Each year millions of mobile phones are produced in the world and an equal number are disposed of. In the vast majority of cases these discarded phones work perfectly well. However, like all technological products these days, phones have a built-in technological obsolescence (we demand the latest model or the latest upgrade) as well as a built in aesthetic obsolescence (we demand the latest style or design).

In spite of their extremely small size and simplicity of look, mobile phones are immensely complex pieces of technology with many, many components. If we stop to think about it for a moment all of these products need sourcing: the raw materials needed to produce them need extracting from the ground, these need to manufactured into working parts which are then assembled into the final phone. The phone then has a ‘life’ when it’s in our hands. Eventually it ‘dies’ when we abandon it. On average, we only tend to keep our phones for a maximum period of eighteen months before we decide to upgrade them.

For most of us placing an unwanted phone into the rubbish is the end of the matter, but what happens to our old phone once we have got rid of it? For many phones their life ends in landfill sites, and it is currently estimated that an astonishing 150,000,000 are trashed each year globally. Perhaps more optimistically, at least as many mobile phones are recycled, their valuable parts recovered and transformed into parts for new phones. However, this fact isn’t as good as it first might appear. This is because the majority of phones that are sent for recycling end up in the developing countries of the world where recycling methods are hazardous and safe recycling methods are not used. This fact not only poses a serious danger to those working on the recycling of mobile phone parts but also constitutes an extreme danger to the environments of these areas of the world where the dangerous materials used in mobile phone production can easily leak into the earth, groundwater and the atmosphere when incinerated.

Continue reading at ENN affiliate, ClickGreen.

Cell phones image via Shutterstock.

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