January 13, 2008
The Afterlife of Cellphones
A growing international trade in discarded mobile phones is helping the world’s poor. But will it poison the earth? asks The New York Times.
"Cellphones are the most valuable form of e-waste. Each one contains about a dollar’s worth of precious metals, mostly gold. And while single phones house far less hazardous material than a computer — an old, clunky monitor can incorporate seven pounds of lead — their cumulative presence is staggering.
Last year, according to ABI Research, 1.2 billion phones were sold worldwide. Sixty percent of them probably replaced existing ones. In the United States, phones are cast aside after, on average, 12 months. And according to the industry trade group CTIA, four out of every five people in the country own cellphones."
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