Raw Materials Used in Mobile Phones Set to ‘Run Out’ in 100 Years
If you’re like most of us, you probably have a multitude of old electronic devices lying around in your house, loft, or garage. This amounts to a lot of precious resources being wasted, and the Royal Society of Chemistry has warned that if we don’t start recycling our old devices, the raw materials needed to make them might run out.
The society says that elements such as indium, yttrium or tantalum could run out within as little as 100 years if no action is taken.
Many people are confused by electronic device recycling
There are around 40 million unused devices lying around in UK homes. Only 18% of households will recycle them, while around 14% will look to sell their devices.
The reasons why so many devices don’t get recycled include data privacy concerns and confusion over how and where electronics can be recycled.
Reducing E-Waste is everyone’s concern
Scientists have started trying to develop substitutes for the rapidly depleting raw materials and are also trying to find new ways that they can be reused, but the bottom line is, we all have to do more. Finding alternative elements might take decades, and the fact that they are being depleted so quickly should be a concern for everyone, as we use them so much in the technology we rely on in our daily lives.
The Society says that manufacturers should offer take-back schemes, design devices in a way so they last longer, and so raw materials can be extracted more easily. It is also calling for users to be able to delete and transfer any personal data safely and securely.
Some retailers already offer schemes where customers can trade in their old device against a new purchase. This is an important development especially in the case of mobile phones. These schemes considerably reduce e-Waste and prevent toxic materials like arsenic from leaching into the environment.
We can all take action
So what can we do? Reusing, recycling, donating or selling our old devices prevents a lot of e-Waste and every little helps, especially if you consider that the average person in the UK will produce three tonnes of electronic waste in their lifetime. The situation is only going to get worse too, as technology develops and we have access to more and more smart devices.
But it’s not all bad news. We’re aware of the problem and we can take positive action. The Society points to the sweeping changes that have been introduced in the food and beverage industry in recent years. Efforts have been made to reduce the use of disposable coffee cups and recycle more of them, and plastic straws are set to be banned. This just shows how quickly things can change when everyone gets behind a cause.