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While You Are Staring At Your New Phone, Have You Ever Thought About Recycling?

How often do you swap out your old smartphone for a new one? Every two or three years? Every year? Today, phone companies make it easy with deals to trade in your old phone for the newest version. But those discarded phones are becoming a huge source of waste, with many components ending up in landfills or incinerators.

When a cell phone gets tossed, only a few materials get recycled, mostly useful metals like gold, silver, copper and palladium, which can be used in manufacturing other products. But other materials — especially fiberglass and resins — which make up the bulk of cellphones’ circuit boards, often end up at sites where they can leak dangerous chemicals into our groundwater, soil, and air.

Consumer demand for the latest electronic devices contributes to the large amount of e-waste, and cell phones are the biggest problem. In 2006, the United Nations estimated annual global e-waste to be about 50 million metric tons. When these products are dumped or incinerated, they release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere — moreover, so does making those products in the first place.

Do we really need to change our gadgets that often?

We need to be more aware of how to dispose of them safely at the end of their life and develop technologies that can turn them into secondary raw materials for manufacturing new products. We need to look for the solution to our new-age addiction to our electronic devices that we love and almost can’t live without. It will not happen overnight, but we need to get on that path, or we will never reach there.

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