Today’s Cool Phone is Tomorrow’s Toxic Waste

cellphones.jpgYesterday we reported that according to a recent Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA) study, very few mobile handsets are actually being recycled. So what is happening to them? Well, landfills are probably where a lot of them are ending up, making for a future environmental disaster.

Even if, as the report suggests, people are actually keeping the phones as backups for now, what is going to happen when users have numerous backups? With the average phone being replaced in 18 months, there are millions of phones that have no where to go. And Jeff Angel, the director of the Total Environment Center (TEC) claims that industry efforts to reclaim disposed phones isn’t working with just three percent of all mobile handsets being recycled.

So what is the solution? Well, one program that has been started is an industry-partnered program with Landcare Australia, where a tree will be planted for every handset recycled. The “Old Phones, New Trees,” program should get the tree-hugger lot involved, but that’s still a long way to go. Another option is a $10 refundable deposit on mobile phones. And there have been other programs suggested such as having to turn in an old phone to keep your number when buying a new phone.

Australian efforts are to boost collections of old phones by 200 percent and halve what goes into landfills within the next three years. That’s a good first step, but there is still a long way to go. And if you think this is bad. Where do you think those used 50-inch plasma TVs are going to end up in another decade?

[Via PC World]