Upgraded Apple iPhone? How To Recycle Your Old iPhone — and Why

Written by David Michaelis

Upgraded to the gold iPhone? Recycle your old model. Here’s how and why recycling phones should be an absolute must if not mandatory, brought to you by David Michaelis.

aNewDomain.net — All geeks love smartphone upgrades. Some wait until midnight to get the best version available, while others read endless reviews and wait until the precise moment to pounce. Whether they’re pouncing or waiting, everyone eventually upgrades their mobile phone. And that means a bunch of old, discarded mobile devices usually end up in a landfill poisoning your drinking water. Here’s why you should recycle your old iPhone — and how to do it, too.

And check out the great infographic on mobile recycling below the fold.

Gold and Silver and Cadmium

In another world precious metals could act as a medium for payment. A gold bar for an iPhone 5s, perhaps. Or a piece of silver for the 5c. In our world, however, the silver and gold is actually inside the device you buy. These and other trace amounts of metals are used to build that phone you want so badly. Most people have no idea what’s encased in their handy little smartphone.

Some of these old phones simply sit unused in a cupboard or closet, slowly dying.

But even more, as the infographic below will explain, these phones are thrown away. Would you knowingly throw those thin traces of silver and gold into a dump? I don’t think so.

But that’s what people do. Instead of being recycled, iPads, PCs and other mobile devices are being dumped into landfills. This is a growing problem not only in the U.S. but around the globe as well. This disregard for responsible recycling mirrors nuclear waste. In other words, the materials in your phone stick around forever. They do not decompose on their own.

One of the main dangerous substances used in phones is cadmium. This poisonous heavy metal is known to cause lung and prostate cancer and is toxic to the gastrointestinal tract, kidneys, and the respiratory, cardiovascular and hormonal systems. Cadmium is considered the seventh most-dangerous substance known to humankind.

Throwing your phone into the trash, which funnels into a landfill, which then leaks cadmium and other poisons into the ground, is the reality right now. The cadmium will poison our drinking water if left alone.

Recycle, Please

What most consumers don’t know is that many of the materials in their phones are easily recyclable. Instead of placing that defunct Razr into the trash, please recycle it.

The average American disposes of a mobile phone every two years. And only one out of 10 of these phones are being dismantled and recycled. That means 90 percent of mobile devices in the U.S. are sitting unused or slowly polluting in a landfill.

While the value of the metals in each phone is low (sorry, wannabe precious-metal thieves) a massive number of phones end up in landfills or incinerators — roughly 135 million phones in the U.S. alone in 2010, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. This amounts to hundreds of millions of dollars of resources that are annually wasted.

Given that mining landfills for mobile phones is expensive and inefficient, consumers need a stronger incentive to recycle their old devices. Reward programs have started to pop up, often in the form of trade-ins and discounts like what AT&T and Apple offer, but these often focus on the rewards, rather than on the recycling.

Consumers need to know the damage they are contributing to, and how simple it is to recycle. The EPA tells us exactly how we can do this.

To provide some factual context, please review the infographic below. Get informed. Recycle your phones.

For aNewDomain.net, I’m David Michaelis.

Based in Australia, David Michaelis is a world-renowned international journalist and founder of Link Tv. At aNewDomain.net, he covers the global beat, focusing on politics and other international topics of note for our readers in a variety of forums. Email him at DavidMc@aNewDomain.net.

Credit: Mobiles 2 Money UK

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