Last updated April 12, 2019
Most cell phone users are aware that their mobile handsets are composed of a wide variety of natural and manmade materials. They may not realize, however, just how many chemicals are involved in the manufacture of such devices. While some of the components of the typical cell phone pose no danger to the environment, others are highly toxic. If cell phones are not disposed of properly, these toxic materials can leach out over time, contaminating not just soils but also the aquifers that form an integral part of water supplies in many communities.
The best way to dispose of cell phones properly is to take them to a cell phone recycling center. Such centers have the knowledge and technology required to make sure that all components of the phone are dealt with in a correct manner so that no degradation of the natural environment will occur.
Approximate Percentages of Various Substances in Cell Phones
No two brands or models of cell phones are identical in all respects, but overall in the industry, mobile handsets follow roughly the same pattern of composition.
Cell phones contain up to 20% of a substance known as acrylonitrile butadiene styrene polycarbonate. This is usually abbreviated as ABS and is a form of durable plastic. Other major constituents include silica, soda, and lime, which combine together to make up the glass that covers screens and faceplates. This contributes as much as 11% of the composition of a phone. The chemical polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) makes up as much as 6% of a phone while regular polycarbonate represents 4%.