You may have seen in the news recently that China has tightened its restrictions on the import of various recycled materials – particularly mixed plastics and paper. Your first question might be: Why is any material that’s collected for recycling in the UK going to China? The simple answer is that these materials (like plastics and paper) are global commodities and are sold all over the world where there is a demand for them. China has a huge manufacturing industry that needs raw materials to produce many of the products that we then buy, which is why we sell some of it to Chinese markets. China has introduced these restrictions because it wants to improve the quality of the material that it imports, but also to develop and strengthen its own domestic supply. Material collected for recycling in the UK is still being recycled and is being sent to other markets – a lot of it gets sent much closer to home both in the UK and across Europe – but improving the quality of the material we collect is something we can all help with. For instance by putting out the right things for recycling and making sure that they’re clean. We have lots of information on what you can recycle at https://www.recycleforlondon.com/what-can-i-recycle Finally, why do we sell our recycling at all? Well, it costs money to process all our waste – and councils are the ones who pick up a lot of those costs at the front end when they collect and send it for processing. So the money that UK waste businesses get paid for recycled material essentially helps councils keep their costs down – and that benefits us all by ensuring that councils can spend the money they save on other essential services.
Technology products have become a huge part of our lives. No access to a laptop, computer, tablet or smartphone, even just for one day, would be a struggle for most of us! Whilst technology has become essential in today's world, its spread has also brought about a number of problems. One of the most concerning of all is the increase of e-waste. This is all electronic products such as mobile phones, computers, TVs and so on, that have become unwanted, non-working or obsolete and are thrown away instead of recycled.
Some surprising stats
- The US produces the most e-waste in the world - an unbelievable 9.4 million tonnes per year. In the UK, we produce 1.3 million tonnes of e-waste each year
- Around 350,000 mobile phones are thrown away each day
- At present, only 12.5% of all our e-waste is recycled
- By recycling 1 million cell phones, we could recover 350kg of silver, 34kg of gold, 16,000kg of copper and 15kg of palladium
We change mobile phones very quickly as newer, better models are constantly being released. Unfortunately, many of us are not aware that phones can be recycled and so they end up in the bin with the rest of our waste. By recycling old mobile phones we can help save resources, be kind to the environment and also make some money as many companies offer something in exchange for unwanted phones!
Here are five creative ideas for recycling your old mobile phone, whether it be a smartphone or an old-style mobile phone.
Use it as a car phone. You can do this if your phone isn't visibly damaged. Keep a charger in your car drawer and use it as a GPS, radio or music player.
Make a remote control. It's not important if you have an Android or IOS, both can be turned into a brand new remote! The first thing to do is check if it has an infrared or IR blaster. This will let you connect it to air conditioners, TVs and many other devices which can be controlled remotely.
- Make a security camera! This is definitely an amazing way to recycle your mobile phone and it's extremely simple too. The only thing you need to do is install an application like Presence, Perch or Gotya, depending on your phone's operating system, and then place the phone where you want surveillance. You can keep an eye on your front door, your garden - it's your choice.
A broken phone can be turned into a piggy bank or wallet. Simply reassemble the phone as only the exterior is needed.
Don't be someone who throws their old gadgets in the trash. It's really easy to check the value of your old mobile phone and sell it on to be recycled.
Recycling really does make a difference, so let's all do our bit to keep the planet healthy for future generations.
Abigail Smith is a communications specialist and currently works for Compare and Recycle where he manages their blog. Their main goal is to help visitors find the best solution for recycling their old phones and gadgets.