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WHAT HAPPENS TO YOUR OLD CELLPHONE According to the EPA, Americans get rid of 416,000 mobile devices every day (not counting those old phones stashed in your garage or junk drawer). Discarded cellphones make up a big part of the nearly 50 million metric tons of e-waste generated each year. Here’s what happens to discarded devices:

15-20% RECYCLED

Only 15-20% of e-waste is properly recycled. Of this, 40% of cellphones collected for recycling are refurbished.

APPETITE FOR INNOVATION The average U.S. mobile phone owner upgrades to a new model every 22 months.

UP TO 80% EXPORTED

3-5% DISPOSED

RECOVERING TREASURES

As much as 80% of e-waste generated in the U.S. is exported to Asia.

3-5% of e-waste ends up in landfills or is incinerated.

Recycling from 1 million cellphones can recover:

Copper:

Silver:

20,000 lbs.

550 lbs.

Palladium:

Gold:

Incineration Burning e-waste greatly reduces the volume, however it releases harmful mercury and cadmium gases into the environment.

20 lbs.

Landfills The most common form of e-waste disposal, landfills also have environmental impacts. Toxic substances like cadmium, lead and mercury can be released and contaminate soil and groundwater. Trace materials from e-waste account for 70% of toxic material in landfills, but only 2% of the trash by volume.

50 lbs.

While e-waste makes up a mere

2% of landfill

volume, it accounts for

70% of landfills' toxic waste.

Sources: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, ”E-waste management as a Global Challenge” (2016) by Florin-Constatin Mihai and Maria-Grazia Gnoni, The Global E-waste Monitor 2017, United Nations University, the International Telecommunication Union, the International Solid Waste Association, BASEL Action Network, Greenpeace.

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Interface | SPRING 2019

Profile for Shelly Nazarenus

INTERFACE Magazine, Spring 2019  

An award-winning semi-annual publication of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2) at the Univ....

INTERFACE Magazine, Spring 2019  

An award-winning semi-annual publication of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2) at the Univ....

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