What happens with your smartphone when you throw?

you ever wondered what happens when you get rid of your smartphone? No, it does not reach the paradise of the smartphones where he’ll find my ancestors. After the death of a smartphone, a lot of things take place. Here’s what’s happening in the beyond the mobile phone.

when a smartphone stops working, it is important to put it in a place where it can be recycled. You can perform searches on the Internet in order to find deposits near you. All devices incorporating electronic circuits and components require special treatment, because these components are made up of many toxic substances such as lead, arsenic, cadmium or mercury. Therefore, it is extremely important that they are properly recycled.

90% of the components of a smartphone are recyclable. Either the smartphone, as old regardless of, it is likely to be recycled. Once you have filed your smartphone in a collection point, the first thing that he suffers is the dismantling of its battery. Lithium-ion batteries are very unstable and can cause problems when being transported. They are then sent in a specific place for their treatment. Nickel and cobalt they contain can be recycled to make new batteries.

90% of the components of a smartphone are recyclable

the rest of the components of your smartphone are plastic, components and circuits. Smartphones are dismantled to separate materials, which have been converted into raw materials. Materials such as copper, Tin and aluminum are extracted from your old phone to start a new life cycle. LCD screens are also disassembled in order to extract the metals they contain.

That is what is happening in the best of worlds. But our consumption of technological products is that we generate and must manage an impressive amount of technological waste. The West produces between 20 and 50 million tonnes of waste technology each year.

Who manages this waste?

For every technology product that we buy in Europe, we pay a recycling fee that rises about 400 million euros. In theory, this sum should be used to manage the recycling of technology waste cleanly and efficiently. However, only about 33% of the waste comes in an approved recycling facility. The remaining 66% are sent to Africa by the more or less legal means. What for? Because sending our technology waste in Africa is less expensive to recycle them.

Recycle a computer costs an average of 3.5 euros. Send it in a container destined for Ghana 1.5 euros.

In the name of solidarity

the export of waste and electronic waste is prohibited since 1989. However, our technological waste invading more in addition to villages and cities on the African continent. All this under the guise of solidarity. The former smartphones and computers to companies that are obsolete, are sent by ship in Africa with the excuse that they can be reused by the local population. Between 25% and 75% of devices that are sent are not even in a State of operation, but under the guise of humanitarian aid, we separate our waste. As if we get out our waste from home and throw them the neighbor.

800px Agbogbloshie
the discharge of Agbogbloshie in Ghana.  / © Marenapoli

the largest technological waste dump is located in Accra, capital of Ghana, in the Agbogbloshie district. Its area equals that of eleven football fields. In these dumps, thousands of people work, looking for precious metals that they can then sell. A worker can get 3.5 dollars a day, double the average salary of a worker in another sector.

recycle a computer costs an average of 3.5 euros. Send it in a container destined for Ghana 1.5 euros.

To extract the metal, these workers are burning devices, so highly polluting air, harmful for them and the environment. In the Agbogbloshie district, we can find quantities of lead accumulated in the soil that exceed a thousand times the tolerated amount. Water, soil and air are polluted, so that this accumulation of waste has ruined the biodiversity of the region. People get sick, the animals die and the Ghanaian authorities are unable to dispose of thousands of tons of electronic waste from Europe. Meanwhile, in the West, we continue to consume away from this tragedy.

If the topic interests you, you can watch a documentary for Arte, “ electronic tragedy ‘, who will enlighten you a little more on the drama of technological waste.

article first published last year in July 2016

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