IN ROMANIA, OVER 22 MILLION OLD MOBILE PHONES ARE STILL STORED IN DRAWERS

Mobile phones have become an important part of modern man’s life. According to the latest data provided by the EESC – European Economic Social Committee, 90% of the adults in the European Union have a mobile phone, half of which are smartphones. It is estimated that mobile phone sales will reach 5 million units per day in 2023, an impressive rate that hides a major problem: what about old phones that are no longer used?

ROMANIA RANKED AS ONE OF THE LOWEST FOR THE RECYCLING OF WASTE ELECTRICAL AND ELECTRONIC EQUIPMENT

Unfortunately, many owners choose to keep their products at home, even if they no longer use them, or, even more alarmingly, they throw them in the trash or in the environment, ignoring the major dangers that their components can have on the nature and human health.

Technological progress has made the lifespan of smartphones much shorter compared to the classic mobile phones, with an average of 18 months, which means that currently, there are almost 700 million old and unused mobile phones in the homes of the European Union residents. Unfortunately, Romania has a recycling rate of only 11% (according to reBuy study), with over 22 million devices stored in homes, according to information provided by representatives of the RESPO WEEE Association.

90% OF THE COMPONENTS OF A MOBILE PHONE CAN BE RECYCLED

Mobile phones are part of the category of 90% recyclable electronic products. Smartphones are largely composed of metal (45%), glass (32%), plastic (17%), and through sustainable recycling, the circular economy can be supported, since these materials would become raw materials used for the manufacturing of other gadgets.

“Mobile phone recycling is a real problem, not only in Romania or the European Union, but all over the world. A smartphone contains over 70 elements, more than half of the elements contained in Mendeleev’s periodic table. By recycling phones, we must understand that we are making an essential contribution to the health of the environment. Smartphones contain rare materials such as tin, tantalum, tungsten, gold, silver or palladium. With every 10,000 recycled mobile phones we avoid the extraction of 26 tons of gold ore and 29 tons of silver ore”, says Cristian Pocol, President of the RESPO Association.

CORRECT RECYCLING REDUCES MINING AND ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ON THE ENVIRONMENT

Due to the fact that raw materials are limited, many of them are endangered and we use more than the land can provide us, proper recycling and urban mining are the only solutions that will help the production of new electronic products.

“By reducing the mining, greenhouse gas (CO2) emissions from the atmosphere are reduced. For example, to extract one kilogram of gold from the mine, 23 tons of CO2, 27 g of mercury, 22 grams of arsenic and 2000 tons of waste are produced. If we recovered gold from mobile phones, then the amount of final waste would be only 10 kilograms and would consume only 50 litres of water. In the hypothetical situation of recycling all the 700 million mobile phones hibernating in Europe, a total of 14,920 tonnes of gold, silver, copper, palladium, cobalt and lithium would be generated, with a total value of 1 billion euros. All these materials will later re-enter the economic circuit as a raw material and contribute to the manufacturing of new devices”, mentioned Cristian Pocol, President of the RESPO DEEE Association.

HOW TO PROPERLY RECYCLE WASTE ELECTRICAL AND ELECTRONIC EQUIPMENT (WEEE) IN ROMANIA

Waste electrical and electronic equipment, in this case mobile phones, should not be disposed of or stored in houses, together with other products, but should be personally transported to dedicated recycling centres / new product stores or handed over for collection to the companies which provide this service.

For example, the RESPO WEEE Association provides free containers (boxes or containers of various sizes), which can be ordered by phone at 0 800 800 21 or online at respo.ro/solicitare-cutii-de-colectare. Once delivered, these containers can be filled with waste electrical and electronic equipment that we want to offer for recycling and transported personally to collection centres or one can order by phone for an authorized company to collect them.

The Respo WEEE Association (respo.ro) was founded in June 2019 and is dedicated to a high-performance WEEE collection and recycling process, which ensures the conditions of quality, reliability and technological progress at high standards. The services exist to create an efficient system for the collection, logistics, treatment and recovery of WEEE, in order to minimize waste and environmental impact.

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