Why throwing away your old phone is harmful

Why you must not throw away your old phone

The international waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) forum is predicting that at least five-billion mobile phones will be thrown away, instead of being recycled. Here are benefits of recycling your phone. 

Mobile phone scrap
Mobile phone scrap / iStock

What do you do with your cellphone when you no longer use it? If your answer is that you throw it away, you are making a big mistake! 

According to the international waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) forum, at least five-billion mobile phones will be thrown away in 2022. 

READ: 5.3 billion cell phones to become waste in 2022: report

Unfortunately throwing away your cellphone does a lot of damage to the environment. It can also negatively affect the health of animals and human beings. 

According to All Green Recycling website, 'mobile phones usually contain elements that are harmful to the environment and can adversely affect animals and plants in the area where e-waste is dumped'.

Not only that, but the site reports that phones contain harmful elements ( lead, mercury, cadmium and bromide) which if they are emitted into the atmosphere, 'people who inhale the air can suffer from health problems that are prone to get more severe over time'.

According to the CDC, exposure to high levels of lead may cause anemia, weakness, as well as kidney and brain damage. 

World Health Organization reports that: 'The inhalation of mercury vapour can produce harmful effects on the nervous, digestive and immune systems, lungs and kidneys, and may be fatal'.

According to the CDC, 'breathing high levels of cadmium damages people's lungs and can cause death.' 

The United States Environmental Protection Agency says: 'human exposure to high concentrations of methyl bromide can cause central nervous system and respiratory system failures and can harm the lungs, eyes, and skin.

READ: Here's how you can track the location of your cellphone

Benefits of recycling your phone

There are many benefits of recycling your old phone. Old components from the phone can be used for new phones. 

"People tend not to realise that all these seemingly insignificant items have a lot of value and together at a global level represent massive volumes," WEEE director general Pascal Leroy told BBC

His colleague, Magdalena Charytanowicz added: "These devices offer many important resources that can be used in the production of new electronic devices or other equipment, such as wind turbines, electric car batteries or solar panels - all crucial for the green, digital transition to low-carbon societies."

WEEE said it recommends that there should be encouraging more recycling centers. 

"Providing collection boxes in supermarkets, pick-up of small broken appliances upon delivery of new ones and offering PO [post-office] boxes to return small e-waste are just some of the initiatives introduced to encourage the return of these items," said Leroy.

READ: SABC to introduce levy for TV and Cellphone users?

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