"The Afterlife of Cellphones"

By | January 14, 2008

Some of us crave the latest/greatest cellphone that catches our eye. And when we do buy the new phone, often we throw the old phone away. Do you ever wonder what happens to your old cellphone that’s been thrown away? Now re-imagine this case with your old computer or your old MP3 player or another of your old electronic gadget that you replaced recently.

A lot of this “E-waste” is being shipped abroad, because we don’t have the space to keep it here! Read the following interesting articles and let us know what you think.

NYTimes, AlterNet, & GreenPeace.

13 thoughts on “"The Afterlife of Cellphones"

  1. Margot828

    It seems as though cell phone companies today design their products to have a lifespan of two to three years. They want us to dispose of our cell phones and continually purchase more. It is a shame that these products are not built for longevity. These businesses rely heavily on our consumerism to make a profit. Not only should cell phones be recycled by owners, they should be built for longevity or repair. If cell phone companies encouraged their customers to come to them for repairs, rather than replacement, we would see a decrease in the amount of wasted products.

  2. Laura

    I like the Belgian company Umicore’s solution. Although it is not COMPLETELY environmentally safe, in concern of pollution, it is better than just throwing all of the resources found in cell phones, computers, and mp3 players out.

  3. kitty

    I have realized that some cell phone companies have established a system where you can donate your old cell phone into making new ones. Verizon Wireless has started doing this but they do not make it public in commercials or anything. I feel like if they made this more public then other phone companies would join in and we wouldn’t have so much “e waste”.

  4. rkerr

    I think it is a great idea to reycle these product. It was incredible in the NYTimes article when the Belgian company Umicore was able to recycle that much gold. Think of all the millions of resources we could be recycling if everyone did it? What if we did? Could we be set for life? Also maybe we can find less valuable products to make our cell phones and pcs out of.

  5. ccstout

    No question are americans a wasteful country. However, I believe that cell phone companies are part to blame towards this problem that we are facing. I bought a treo smart phone the first week in june last year and at the time it was the top of the line phone. Two weeks later, as I was trying to set up email I called verizon and told them about the phone and how this was the top of line. I was soon corrected that my phone (two weeks old) was now not the top of the line phone. But now the new one has came out. America feels that we need to buy a new phone every 3 months because cell phone companies come out with a better phone every 3.5 months.

  6. Mattie

    I agree that cell phones should be made to last. But, cell phones companies bank on the fact that people will want the latest and greatest, and I believe that even if those people knew that their disposed cell phones were becoming e-waste and releasing toxins in the air they would still buy new and throw away old. Cell phone companies should find alternative resources to make their products out of. This way, the e-waste can be decreased.

  7. Kathryn

    Umicore seems to be doing the most environmentally friendly thing with e-wastes. I found it very interesting that so much gold and copper can be extracted from electronics. Although it is not entirely harmless to the environment, I feel that it is the most efficient way to go about it since only about 1% of the materials aren’t reused and only a small percentage of gases are released into the atmosphere. I was not surprised when I read the other article that the US sells such a large amount of old electronics abroad. This country needs to not worry about making any more money and needs to do practices like Umicore to smartly deal with the e-waste. Since electronics are not going to be stopped being used because they are such a large part of many people’s everyday lives, then it’s inevitable that old electronics are going to be lying around. I hate that we can’t just naturally be smart about this. Money always comes before environmental cleanliness. It’s so sad that we are basically allowing for further emissions of toxins into the atmosphere. There is obviously a more efficient way to go about it and we need to be more serious about recycling our electronics in a smart way. It’s also so sad that these other countries are suffering terrible diseases, defects and deaths because of our large contribution of our “wastes.”

  8. Kim

    Although i believe that the Umicore company is doing a great thing by recycling cell phones, I mean if you can make that much money why not? I much rather see my cell phones used in a better way. I have recently donated my old cell phones to women shelters where they are given to the women in case of emergencies with their children and/or abuse to themselves. You may also find it interesting that schools around the lowcountry are asking for used cell phones to help in the classroom, especially for special education children. I am all about recycling, but instead of some company stripping the phone down to make money i rather see used cell phones put to better use.

  9. Kristen

    After reading the GreenPeace article, I think that a good solution to this problem would be to reuse unwanted electronics like computers by distributing them to impoverished areas both in the US and abroad. There, they would be put into much better use and could really help some people, like children who could use them to keep up in school. Of course, we would need to establish places where these electonics could be safely thrown away, especially overseas, but I think that the benefit of distributing the electronics to people who could make good use of them should outweigh the cost of ultimately disposing of the electronics properly.

  10. Todd

    i wish they made phones that dont break all the time. but they don’t. I know ive seen old computer collections recycling but i never have seen cell phnes collected to be recycled.

  11. Scott

    Nothing these days are built to last, instead they are built to be replaced in a few years. It is going to take more on our part to correct this problem. We need to make sure that our e-waste is being properly recycled when we dispose of it, and maybe using the older stuff a little longer and not having to have the next best product.

  12. Mike McLaughlin

    People should stop going after the next best thing, and companies should stop coming out with the next best thing every other third day. its not right for the cunsumers, and its not right for the environment.

  13. william sanders

    As Brent below said, cell phone companies will continue to constantly produce new models of cell phones while slightly tweaking designs and features to attract customers. Anyone who has held an average cellphone can attest to the fact that they are by no means meant to last more than a year or so. The problem is not the companies though, they are doing what companies were created to do: design, market, and sell products for profit. The problem lies in the American obsession with gadgets and technology, the release of the i-phone flooded headlines for weeks, why? We seem to need any and every new piece of gadgetry that comes out. While nothing seems immediately harmful with this, most people are not at all mindful of the waste that they produce. Companies though are helping themselves to a new resource by taking these old products and retrieving valuable metals from them. In this age of ever changing technology, we must upgrade our technical capabilities in order to keep pace in a fast moving world, we must also though find a green and responsible way of disposing of our electronic waste.

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