Britain Wasting Cell Phone Recycling Potential

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Last updated April 12, 2019

The United Kingdom is wasting the potential inherent in the recycling of old cell phones and other electronic material, according to a committee of Members of Parliament.  The Commons Science Committee is calling on the UK government to step up to the plate and have the United Kingdom make the most of its resources rather than sending the majority of used cell phones and other electronics overseas for recycling.  It is speculated that the country could otherwise face shortages of “rare earth” and other scarce metals and then massively inflated prices for those metals and the electronic devices that are so dependent on them to function.  The committee pointed out that at the present time, no less than 97 per cent of the rare earth elements used all over the world are all supplied by just the one source – China.

The Committee’s report indicates that while the United Kingdom has a good track record when it comes to the recycling of bulk metals such as aluminum and iron, it is distinctly lacking when it comes to extracting precious metals from scrap such as old cell phones and other electrical goods, and thus ends up exporting the majority overseas, missing out on what the Committee believes is a golden opportunity.

“There is significant potential for the UK to improve its efficiency of metal use… and materials recovery,” says the Labor MP who heads the Committee, Andrew Miller.  “It is vital that the government explores these options without delay.”