We are all aware that protecting the environment today will have a massive impact upon future generations. In the past, the concept of recycling was generally limited to items such as paper, glass and metals. The rise of the smartphone within our daily lives has slightly modified this observation. There are now countless ways to recycle these handy gadgets. Whether referring to the Google Pixel XL, the iPhone 6S or an older Samsung Galaxy, the average lifespan of a mobile phone is 4.7 years. Companies are willing to pay consumers cash in exchange for outdated models. However, the process of recycling itself is quite interesting and in order to appreciate such a unique approach, it is wise to examine the main steps that companies will employ.
Collection and Transportation
The first step obviously involves the collection of any older phones or those which have encountered unrecoverable damage. There are two main ways in which this can take place. The first involves taking the phone to a physical drop-off point such as a community centre. Companies will visit these locations on a regular basis and procure any unwanted devices.
The second option involves leveraging the power of the online community. There are many websites which offer consumers liquid cash for their phones. The phones are simply shipped to the middleman and once received, funds will be transferred into the desired account.
How Does Mobile Phone Recycling Work?
Once the smartphone has arrived at the recycling centre, several steps will need to take place before the act of recycling begins. First, the phones are physically sorted by employees. This is generally intended to remove any extraneous debris that may have inadvertently been included within the batch. This is the only process directly supervised by human contact.
The next step involves breaking down the phones into their core components through the use of mechanical devices such as shredders. In order to maximise the amount of recoverable materials, the pieces of the phone will be separated into several different categories such as:
- Plastics such as the outer casings
- Display screens
- Printed circuit boards
- Any metals
This is still a rather crude initial step. The true magic involved with smartphone recycling is the ability to separate specific metals into their own categories. Many consumers will be surprised to learn that phones contain an appreciable amount of gold within their circuitry. While it is normally not economically viable to extract at home, the fact of the matter is that processing thousands of handsets per day will help to recover a sizeable portion of this metal. The same holds true for other materials such as silver, copper and rare-earth elements including rhodium.
Once valuable metals and other materials have been removed and sorted, they tend to be shipped off to other processing plants. In fact, some of these plants could be located thousands of kilometres away from the initial recycling centre. Metals, plastics and other substances will all be melted down and subsequently sold to other firms. They can then be used in the creation of other products. So, the gold within your phone today could very well have existed within the handset of another consumer located on the other side of the world!
From the modern Google Pixel XL to a traditional push-button Nokia model, the importance of recycling cannot be minimised. If you are looking to help the environment while earning a bit of extra cash, consider this option before you upgrade.