It’s that time of year: the team at MobileMuster are asking Australians to ‘Go for Zero’ by recycling their unused mobile phones.
Taking the lead on the campaign is none other than the Royal Institution of Australia’s esteemed former lead scientist, astrophysicist Professor Alan Duffy, the director of the Space Technology and Industry Institute at Swinburne University of Technology.
Duffy, a vocal proponent of the circular economy, says that Australians last year recycled 800,000 smartphones – a quantity that’s roughly equivalent in size to an adult blue whale. But there’s still a staggering 4.2 million broken smartphones out there. If they’re recycled, you prevent the need for 1400 African elephants’ worth of new mining, he says.
Recycling one mobile phone can avoid 386 grams of CO2 emissions due to the value of the secondary materials recovered. When you multiply that 386g by 4.2 million you start to get a sense of what’s at stake.
“The precious metals that are used in our smartphones were forged in dying stars, so Earth isn’t getting any more,” says Duffy. “We mine them at enormous cost and they are an essential part of electronics. These supplies won’t last forever – which means recovering what we can from our old devices is critical.
“If we recycle those 4.2 million broken mobiles we can prevent over 8,000 tonnes of mineral resources being mined, with saved carbon emissions equivalent to planting 42,000 trees.”
When a smartphone is recycled more than 95% of its components are captured for reuse. This includes cobalt, nickel and lithium, as well as small amounts of gold, silver, palladium, copper and platinum. These recycled materials are then available for use in new products, which reduces the need for virgin mining of what are finite resources.
“One thing’s for sure,” says Duffy. “The Earth is not getting any new precious resources soon, so we need to look after what we have and make the best use of them.”
To find out more about how and where to recycle your old mobiles visit www.mobilemuster.com.au/recycle-a-mobile.
Originally published by Cosmos as Old mobile lying around? You know what to do…
Curated content from the editorial staff at Cosmos Magazine.
Read science facts, not fiction...
There’s never been a more important time to explain the facts, cherish evidence-based knowledge and to showcase the latest scientific, technological and engineering breakthroughs. Cosmos is published by The Royal Institution of Australia, a charity dedicated to connecting people with the world of science. Financial contributions, however big or small, help us provide access to trusted science information at a time when the world needs it most. Please support us by making a donation or purchasing a subscription today.