The disposal of electronic devices in Australia is a problem that has been largely underestimated by the electronics industry and regulatory bodies. For example already over 70 million electronic products have been sold in Australia, and another 18 million new ones are sold every year. The rapid development of new technologies and the nature of industries like Laptops, mobile phones, and GPS units
Mobile phone for example have methods of selling contracts with new handsets, encourage regular upgrades and replacements, have led to the average life expectancy of a mobile phone being only 18-24 months.
This represents a significant toxic waste legacy that is increasing at an alarming rate. Mobile electronic products and their accessories contain concentrations of a range of hazardous substances including toxic heavy metals, brominated flame retardants (BFRs), perfluro-octanoic acid (PFOA) and other metals such as cadmium, lead, nickel, mercury, manganese, lithium, zinc, arsenic etc. They also contain non-renewable resources such as gold, copper and plastic. These heavy metals are persistent and bioaccumulative, that is, they do not degrade in the environment, and instead accumulate in the fatty tissue of organisms. When a mobile phone is disposed to landfill and begins to decompose, a poisonous liquid is formed that can seep into groundwater and then into rivers and streams.
Once in the environment, the substances accumulate in the food chain, and are associated with a range of adverse human health effects, as seen in the table below, including damage to the nervous system, reproductive and developmental problems, cancer and genetic impacts.
Waste management facilities that produce compost from residual waste are also at risk from contamination by the hazardous substances released from mobile phones. Contamination of compost from mobile phones presents risk to those handling the materials found in these products.
We must recognize that re-new and reuse is the highest form of recycling. While recycling and reuse has doubled over the last few years, only 10% of mobile electronic products are currently being recycled. Based on EPA estimates, over a 40 million unused mobile electronic products have accumulated in households. And every year, another 18 million products are replaced, further compounding this problem.
One of the leaders in recycling and reverse logistics, in Australia is C.W Technology Recycling is an industry leader with more than a decade of experience providing supply chain services to a wide range of clients, from chain retailers, to network operators. With capabilities ranging from asset recovery and depot repair, to advance exchange and warehousing, our supply chain services team can access and analyze our clients individual needs, then customize a real-world solution that works and enables maximized asset recovery.
Recycling has for many years been an expense to electronic manufactures and governments alike. The future of recycling will be an industry the generates self rewarding profits, with programs that pay end users for their old and disregarded electronics devices. One of the fastest growing areas for this is the companies that pay consumers for their old mobile phones.. a leader in this industry is cashaphone.com.au