New Technology to Fully Recycle Mobile Phones
Are You Ready for Zero-Waste Cell Phones?
Recycle Mobile: Welcome to the era wherein we bid goodbye to plastics and disposables and say hola to recyclables and zero-wastes materials. What a beautiful time to be alive, isn’t it? Basically, the zero waste movement is a philosophy that stimulates a changed lifestyle honing to cultivate one person to reuse product materials and produce minimum to zero wastes in the garbage tins. The ultimate goal of this movement is to minimize and lessen the trashes that are being sent to landfills, incinerators, and sadly, to the ocean.
However, whenever we say “zero-wastes”, we often consider products that are generally disposable – such as shampoos, conditioners, plastics, cellophane, chips, candies, plastic bottles, foods, and such. But how about your phone? How often do you switch phones? Every year? Every two or three years? Or basically, just at any time there is a new available upgrade of your favourite phone brand? Today, the rise of technology and the speed of innovation makes it so easy for us to be convinced to trade our old phone to a newer one. It is evident, and it’s not a topic for a debate anymore, that we don’t want to be left behind when it comes to technology – especially in phones.
Ever wondered what happens to a disposed and thrown old cellphone? The answer is dreadful.
You may answer, “It’s being recycled.” Yes, but for some parts and elements only – such as metals and tins – which can be reused in producing another product. But for the most parts such as resins and fibre glasses – those are being discarded since they cannot be reused. These materials, once exposed in the scorching heat of the sun, will produce hazardous amounts of lead, mercury, and cadmium. If these chemicals will be exposed to any human contact, especially a child, can result in an irreversible and permanent damage to neurological health and produce redoubtable health harms.
Let’s get technical. Relatively, the World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Children’s’ Fund (UNICEF), in 2015, reported that 28% of the children in India, China, and Ghana suffered severe mental health problems with severe malnutrition due to the exposure alone in said materials and products. Not only do these wastes impose human health hazards, but it also threatens the environment and ecosystem by introducing harmful chemicals and toxins into our soil, air, and ocean. That basically affect EVERY SINGLE ASPECT of our daily life. Are you a foodie? Well, research shows that vegetables, meat, and other products we eat to be affected by these harmful toxins being produced by electronic wastes.
Getting technical again here. In the latest report of the United Nations, in America alone, there are 150 million phones being junked every year with the rapid and swift releases of phone upgrades and trends. ONE HUNDRED FIFTY MILLION JUNKED PHONES! Imagine those being dumped or incinerated and imagine all the greenhouse gases it will emit into the atmosphere. You know greenhouse gases? These are the harmful gases – such as carbon dioxide and chlorofluorocarbons, which absorbs and emits radiation in our thermal infrared range.
All these harmful implication have inspired a group of scientists, led by Maria Holuszko, to create a zero waste cellular phone with every single part available for recycling. Not a hocus pocus, no, this is not some magic trick to bait you to doing something. This is a real environment saviour in which they call, the Ronin8, our friendly neighbour hero. The main objective of their research is to separate the resin from the fibreglass, which was previously proven nearly impossible to be recycled. There had been many previous endeavours made by other scientists to separate the two inseparable components, yet sadly, it involved energy-consuming machinery which is much costly compared to the low value of the materials involved and environmentally harmful.
“Gravity separation is the key,” said Kumar, one of the main heroes of the project. Gravity separation involves separating the organic resins from the fibreglass using, as the name implies, gravity. For it to be possible, these heroic scientists calculated different weights of the materials which will then identify the lifting process using gravity. After data on densities and weights are identified, the materials enter a sonic chamber with recycled water to neatly and safely separate both materials.
Unlike the energy consuming methods of separation, this introduced process and technique is purely eco-friendly and remarkably cost-effective which is a win-win for the big phone companies aiming for bigger profits, and for Mother Earth aiming just to provide a healthy environment for its beings.
Now, what’s the point of separation? How do we benefit from it? We benefit big time! The combination of fibreglass and resins act solely for the function of the phone itself – the printed circuit board. When discarded, they become useless. With this newly discovered separation technique, the resins can be safely separated from the fibreglass itself and the recycled fibreglass can be used again to produce another new circuit boards. Win-win! Lesser production of fibreglass, and hello recycled ones! I don’t know about you, but that sounds so technically sexy.
The team of heroes became successful in their innovation and already has recycled quite a number of fibreglass. Today, the researchers are aiming to facilitate a larger scale model that will cater to the commercial public. Still, even with a larger approach, the team seeks to promote an eco-friendly method that can separate plastics, fibres, resins, and metals without the aid of any harmful toxic chemicals or having to lose precious metals, because who doesn’t want to preserve Mother Earth, right? I mean, c’mon y’all, we only have one Earth.
The team, as of now, focuses on phones since it is a common commodity and basically almost every single person owns a piece or more. I know you have, you’re using it right now. However, the process and innovation don’t lead on cellular phones alone. Kumar said that the machinery can also be used in other electronic devices such as laptops, computers, printers, and other machines and equipment from small household devices to large factory machines.
The technological advancements are still pursuing and we cannot stop the innovation. As a saying goes in the movie Spiderman, “with great power comes great responsibility.” No, we cannot stop the rise of gadgets and devices and let’s face it, we cannot stop e-wastes along with it. However, this is the time wherein manufacturers must begin to become more responsible for the disposal of these electronic gadgets with the high priority of recycling and consumers to become more aware of the impact of e-waste. Because let’s deal with it, we should not blame it all on the manufacturers, we, consumers, should also be held accountable.
While we were busy changing and upgrading our phones, these researchers were also busy saving mother earth. So whenever we think of upgrading, let’s think twice and be reminded of the impact of our consumptions. When in doubt, remember Spiderman – “with great power comes great responsibility.”
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iBan Plastic Team