What happens with your smartphone when you throw it away?

What happens with your smartphone when you throw it away?

Have you ever wondered what happens when you get rid of your smartphone? No, he does not join the paradise of smartphones where he will find his ancestors. After the death of a smartphone, a lot of things happen. Here's what's going on over the mobile phone.

When a smartphone stops working, it is important to put it in a place where it can be recycled. You can search the Internet to find the deposits closest to you. All devices incorporating electronic components and circuits require special treatment, as these components are formed of many toxic substances such as lead, arsenic, cadmium or mercury. It is therefore extremely important that they be properly recycled.

90% of the components of a smartphone are recyclable. Whatever the smartphone, as old as it is, it is likely to be recycled. Once you have your smartphone in a collection point, the first thing he will suffer is the dismounting of his battery. Lithium ion batteries are very unstable and can cause problems during transportation. They are sent to a specific place for their treatment. The nickel and cobalt they contain can be recycled to make new batteries.

90% of the components of a smartphone are recyclable

The rest of the components of your smartphone are plastic, components and circuits. Smartphones are dismantled to separate the materials, which are converted into raw materials. Materials such as copper, tin and aluminum are extracted from your old phone to start a new life cycle. The LCD screens are also dismounted to extract the metals they contain.

That's what happens in the best of all worlds. But our consumption exacerbates technological products that we generate and manage an impressive amount of technological waste. The West generates between 20 and 50 million tons of technological waste every year.

Who is paying for this waste?

For every technology product we buy in Europe, we pay a recycling fee of about 400 million euros. In theory, this sum should be used to manage the recycling of technological waste properly and efficiently. However, only about 33% of the waste arrives at a homologous recycling plant. The remaining 66% are sent to Africa by more or less legal means. Why ? Because sending our technological waste to Africa is cheaper than recycling it.

Recycle a computer rated average 3.5 euros. Send it to a container destination Ghana 1.5 euros.

In the name of solidarity

The export of waste and electronic residues has been banned since 1989. However, our technological waste is invading more and more villages and cities all over Africa. All this under cover of solidarity. The old smartphones and corporate computers that have become obsolete, are sent by boat to Africa with the excuse that they can be rutilized by the local population. Between 25% and 75% of the devices that are sent are not even in working condition, but under the guise of humanitarian aid, we get rid of our waste. As if we were taking our trash out of the house and throwing it at the neighbor's.

800px Agbogbloshie
The release of Agbogbloshie in Ghana. / Marenapoli

The largest landfill is Accra, capital of Ghana, in the Agbogbloshie district. Its surface area is equivalent to eleven football fields. In these dumps, thousands of people are working, looking for precious metals that they can then sell again. A worker can get $ 3.5 a day, double the average wage of a worker in another sector.

Recycle a computer rated average 3.5 euros. Send it to a container destination Ghana 1.5 euros.

To extract the metal, these workers burn the devices, then strongly polluting the air, harmful for them and the environment. In the district of Agbogbloshie, we can find quantities of lead accumulated in the soil which exceed 1,000 times the tolerated quantity. The water, the soil and the air are polluted, so that this accumulation of waste has ruined the biodiversity of the region. People get sick, animals die and Ghanaian authorities are unable to get rid of thousands of tonnes of electronic waste from Europe. Meanwhile, in the West, we continue to consume away from this tragedy.

If you are interested in the subject, you can watch an Arte documentary titled The Electronic Tragedy, which will tell you a little more about the drama of technological waste.

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