This may come as a profound shock to many Americans, but cell phones actually contain precious metals copper, silver, and even gold. These materials are present in cell phones in miniscule quantities. However, when the tiny quantities of metals are multiplied by the number of cell phones in use, it turns out that there is indeed a very great deal of precious metal in the cell phone environment.
In fact, the total amount of precious metals contained in 100 million cell phones adds up to more than 3,000 pounds of gold and more than 65,000 pounds of silver. Copper is even more abundant; the same number of phones would yield in excess of 2,000,000 pounds of it.
These figures have huge implications for the issue of old cell phone recycling. When phones are discarded in landfills, or simply stashed in drawers in case they may be of some use again someday, the precious metals cannot be recaptured. That means that cell phone manufacturers must buy their materials on the world markets. This in turn spurs mining companies to redouble their efforts to obtain precious metals. The ultimate result? Environmental devastation in many parts of the world.
This result could be avoided if more people would shift to recycling their old phones. Throwing it away is irrational, since it creates no benefit for anyone, but keeping it is almost as silly. Old phones really do not become useful again. Technology moves so quickly that they are obsolete within just a couple of years, and then, they end up thrown away regardless. A better plan is to recycle a phone as soon as you know you have a new one.