From plastic to paper, cardboard to electronics, today, there are many ways we can recycle unwanted materials. But when it comes to recycling smartphones, when they’re no longer wanted, more often than not they are left in a drawer, and lay there, forgotten.
But a smartphone contains numerous reusable parts, including circuit boards lined with precious metals like gold and palladium, microphones, cameras, screens, speakers and even battery connectors that can be given a second life.
With so much more to offer than meets the eye, we’ve taken a look at how old mobile devices are being re-used in the industry today:
For Earth Day 2018, Apple announced its newest disassembly robot, Daisy, designed to reclaim the valuable materials stored in unwanted iPhones. Created through years of R&D, Daisy incorporated technology based on Apple’s learnings from Liam, its first disassembly robot, which it launched in 2016.
To ensure that Liam did not go to waste, Daisy was made from some of Liam’s parts. The new robot can disassemble nine versions of iPhone and sort their high-quality components for recycling. Within an hour, Daisy can take apart up to 200 iPhones, removing and sorting components, so that Apple can recover materials that traditional recyclers can’t — and at a higher quality.
Turning metal into medals
In preparation for the 2020 Olympics, the Olympic Committee has been accepting donations of old devices since 2017, to make medals made entirely from recycled materials. From 6.21 million devices, the Committee was able to extract 71 pounds of gold, 7,700 pounds of silver and 4,850 pounds of bronze from unwanted devices.
This is not the first time the Olympics has done this—the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter games used old computers and TVs to make medals for the events.
Here, at HYLA Mobile
Thanks to trade-in and buyback programs powered by HYLA, millions of devices can be recycled and redistributed into the market to prevent environmental damage. With our help, carriers, retailers, and OEMS are proudly offering mobile device trade-in programs, which not only allows consumers to hand in their old devices and be compensated in return, but carriers, retailers and OEMs can also re-use these devices again in emerging markets or for insurance purposes.
So far, through our role in maximizing the device lifecycle, we’ve been able to:
- Repurpose over 53 million devices
- Save 65 billion gallons of ground water from e-Waste pollution
- Divert 24 million pounds of e-Waste from landfills
- Bring connectivity to 38.5 million “unconnected” end users
- And give $6 billion back to consumers through device trade-ins
But there is still a long way to go…
The good news is that more environmentally aware consumers are taking advantage of trade-in programs to ensure they are discarding their devices in the most sustainable way. The mobile industry is also making sustainability a priority, but there is still a long way to go.
According to research conducted by HYLA and Deloitte, in the US, there are about 125 million devices not turned in when purchasing a new one. Furthermore, around 56 million of those phones are not properly disposed of—which means there are potentially millions of smartphones sitting in consumers’ drawers.
With sustainable practice quickly becoming a priority for both consumers and businesses, it is important that all players in the global smartphone market encourage consumers to recycle their old devices through the incentives available to them today. As a huge contributor to the circular economy, the secondary device market is a rare example of a win-win-win for the industry.
The GSMA has also thrown its weight behind a series of United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It released a report looking to encourage the mobile industry and focus it on:
- Expanding the global mobile network footprint and connecting more subscribers
- Improving the quality of connectivity
- Innovating mobile-enabled services to meet sustainable development needs
- Contribute to sustainable development policy alongside governments and agencies.
There are many businesses like HYLA that are making a real difference to keeping devices out of landfills and contributing to sustainable practices. We applaud the different initiatives being implemented to maximize the lives of devices—let’s all keep up the good work!
If you want to learn more, contact us today.