The Environmental Impact Of Cell Phones


Over the last decades, when cellular phones have become a popular accessory all over the world, billions of units have already been produced and more are still being manufactured. With the fast upgrade of mobile phones and consumers change cell phone units every year or so, billions have also been thrown away.

The Truth Is In The Numbers

Before we get into the hazards these products bring to our environment, let us take a look into some of the numbers on cell phone production. There are 4.1 billion cell phone subscriptions worldwide. They are bigger and heavier now than a small period where they were trying to get smaller. Every year in the U.S., 130 million cell phones are being retired, an increase of 40 times more compared to the statistics generated in 1990. This converts to 65,000 tons of garbage per year on mobile phones alone.

In a year that we use our cell phones, it consumes 4,221 Mega joules of energy, which is equal to 32 gallons of gas, and discharges 112 Kilograms of carbon dioxide. If all cell phone users are not conscious on the use of their cell phones and leave it charged all day, the electricity wasted would be able to power 28,000 homes.

What Our Cell Phones Are Made Of

Getting the raw materials that make up a cellular phone and manufacturing them take up so much energy already. Much more when it is in use. The wastage never stops even when it is thrown away.

Toxic materials are embedded in cellular phones. There are lead, beryllium, and nickel content in the circuit boards. Mercury, a highly poisonous substance, can be found in the liquid crystal displays. The batteries also contain hazardous metals, like nickel and cadmium. Other harmful metals in various cell phone parts are arsenic, copper, lithium, and zinc. These elements can corrode and degrade the environment.

So when these cell phones gets into a landfill, the toxic metals may leak and trickle to the earth, and contaminate with the soil and groundwater. The worse that may happen is that the hazardous substances may get into the roots of plants and trees, which may get into the food chain and lead to health complications.

Now that we have an overview on the adverse impact of cell phones to our environment, let us learn to reuse and recycle these products and the tiny parts that compose mobile phones.