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UN discusses electronics disposal

UN discusses electronics disposal

The meeting of the signatories to the Basel Convention will hopefully come up with a solution to the problem of waste electronics.

Most of us like to keep ourselves in touch on the go, and usually use the shiniest handset we can con our network providers into handing out – but do we ever thing about where the old handsets go when they die?

The United Nations is sufficiently concerned about the high device churn rate amongst gadget-obsessed mobile 'phone users to make it a headline issue for its five-day conference, the ninth meeting of the Conference to the Parties of the Basel Convention, to be held in Indonesia this week. Mobile 'phone site MobileCrunch quotes the agenda for the convention as raising the subject of “adopting new sets of guidelines for the environmentally sound management of used and end-of-life mobile phones.

The statement issued by the Basel Convention members goes on to say that there are approximately three billion mobile 'phones in the world today, and “sooner or later these phones will be discarded, whole or in parts.

While many countries, including the UK, have companies that offer a 'recycling' policy in which old handsets are given a once-over, a new battery, and sent off to the developing world to begin life anew, this isn't always the panacea it appears to be. Although the development of a reasonable mobile infrastructure is cheap enough, the creation of a system for reclamation and safe disposal of electronics like mobile handsets isn't: all too often the handsets are simply picked clean of easily-accessible precious metals and dumped in landfills in which they leech out their heavy metals and hazardous chemicals. A win for the country of origin, sure – but not so much for the developing nation who accepted the 'phones.

With the Basel Convention having the might of the EU signatories behind it, it's possible that a solution dreamt up during the get-together in Indonesia could become international law. The only question: is five days long enough to solve a problem that's growing worse every year, with no end in sight?

How often do you replace your personal electronic gadgets – and what do you do with the old models? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

14 Comments

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badders 24th June 2008, 09:52 Quote
Handsets never die!
Well, mine doesn't, at least.
I'm still using a 5-year old nokia something or other. It makes/receives calls and texts - that's all I need it to do.
theevilelephant 24th June 2008, 10:13 Quote
well as with virtually everything i own, when its completly bricked its time for a new one. my mobiles ussually last at least 3 years
Delphium 24th June 2008, 10:41 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by badders
I'm still using a 5-year old nokia something or other. It makes/receives calls and texts - that's all I need it to do.
X2

However when it does get replaced, along with other electronis (unless its working usefull pc parts which id hand down to a friend) I genrally bring em into work where they have an electronics recycling system in place.
Allthough, how much of that ends up in a landfill I dont know.
Tris 24th June 2008, 10:54 Quote
i have only ever owned 3 mobile phones in about 10 years of using them...i admit i dont know what happened to my first, but my recently replaced second phone has gone on to a better life as my backup alarm clock, so technically still using it :)
The Bodger 24th June 2008, 10:58 Quote
I'm currently using a W800, which I have had since they first came out. It's around three years old, and I'll continue using it until it dies. It's been a great phone, and I'm one of those people who won't discard something just because it's no longer "up to date". I got it with my contract, and rather than upgrade the phone when the contract was up I negotiated a lower price for the same tariff. Personally, I don't understand why more people don't do this sort of thing, saving the environment and their money in the process. My previous phone was an ancient 3210, which I ran until it was dead then handed in to a recycling centre. These are the only two phones I've owned in the last 8 years.
yakyb 24th June 2008, 11:05 Quote
i wish they woudl do something about zimbabwe as opposed to talking about this
Mentai 24th June 2008, 13:51 Quote
@yakyb Agreed
johnmustrule 25th June 2008, 04:51 Quote
i never throw away old electronics, i got bins and bins full of stuff I might maybe someday find a use for lol.
Amon 25th June 2008, 05:28 Quote
The first time I've ever seen phone preceded with an apostrophe, as if abbreviating telephone. Isn't the word cellular phone used in Europe?
Gareth Halfacree 25th June 2008, 08:12 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Amon
The first time I've ever seen phone preceded with an apostrophe, as if abbreviating telephone.
But 'phone /is/ a contraction of telephone.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Amon
Isn't the word cellular phone used in Europe?
No, we call them "mobile 'phones." Well, technically speaking, we call them "mobile phones" or just "mobiles", but I'm a bit old-fashioned in my English usage.
liratheal 25th June 2008, 10:12 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Amon
The first time I've ever seen phone preceded with an apostrophe, as if abbreviating telephone. Isn't the word cellular phone used in Europe?

I usually call it 'alarm clock' since that's all it does on a regular basis >.>
DougEdey 25th June 2008, 10:21 Quote
My sister calls her phone a cell in Canada and she looks at me funny whenever I go over and talk about my mobile ("mobil" to canadians :p)
rhuitron 25th June 2008, 11:01 Quote
@ johnmustrule

If what you said is true. You will be a very rich man!

Electronic devices have grams of gold inside. Once mulched, you can take this mulched mix of stuff to a certain place, (chem factory?) and ask for them throw the mulched electronic device into a vat of acid. Which in turn melts the plastic and lets the gold collect at the bottom. Then depending on how much you mulched, you can get some damn good money for those old electronics you kept.

Generally these place are recycling centers. But don't know if they are common, or exist in the UK.
My uncle did this once with two 64 gallon barrels of old switches, hubs, computer components, and got 12,000 dollars for the raw gold bar.
Woodstock 27th June 2008, 08:04 Quote
im on my second phone the first is disconnected and my lil sis uses it as a toy.
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