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Arsenic, Mercury, Lead and...
Governments should learn from the Charitable Recycling Programme

The mobile revolution has far outclassed land-lines, televisions, and even computers; and gained the unique nomenclature of being a Fast Moving Consumer Durable. The catch is that due to such mass penetration, cellphone waste is a big threat to the environment.

According to a research by global consulting firm Deloitte, discarded old handsets could poison the environment unimaginably as it is estimated that the world would have 8,000 tonnes of cell phone waste by the end of 2012; too many useless handsets are simply being thrown into wastebaskets. The worry becomes deeper once the figures hit you. In 2008, the number of handsets crossed the 4 billion mark. Six out of ten people carry a cell phone today across the world. Interestingly, the contribution of emerging economies is quite significant.

China has the highest number of cell phones with a whopping 634 million in 2008. India follows China with over 427.3 million in 2009. The third in line is the US with over 270 million handsets. Most amazingly, the number is exponentially increasing across regions, irrespective of the financial crisis. If not disposed off properly, these handsets are ticking time bombs as they contain toxic materials like copper, mercury, brominated flame retardants, lead, arsenic, and zinc. Even if they are dumped into landfill sites, the toxic substances would surely contaminate the ground water. It is imperative now to incorporate proper recycling programs involving different stakeholder groups, where the government machineries globally work hand in hand with manufacturers to ensure and fine irresponsible disposal of cell phones. Governments could take lessons from movements like the Charitable Recycling Programme of Canada, which encourage companies to motivate employees to handover their old phones to the programme.

By:- Akram Hoque

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