As the whole world gets ready to observe the World Environment Day on June 5, different organisations and companies are planning a slew of activities to observe the day. We wondered on what the mobile users and even the mobile phone companies could do or were already doing to save the environment.
The issue of e-wastage has over the years attracted lot of attention. With increasing mobile penetration, the issue has further gained ground. According to an estimate there are already five billion mobile subscribers worldwide today. There are many more unused handsets. With each passing day the monster of e-waste generating from these discarded handsets grows bigger.
Notably, in UK only the unused phones worth 2.7 billion pounds are lying unused. In the worldwide context, this figure definitely would be lot more.
The role of ordinary mobile phone user, thus gains importance. Many handset manufacturers and organisations recycle old handsets and use those materials to produce new ones.
Cellphones contain many different substances that are toxic and potentially hazardous to the environment and health. These include ferrous and non-ferrous metals, lead, magnesium, copper, mercury, plastics, glass, liquid crystals, barium, concrete, ceramics, rubber, arsenic etc.
Hence, it becomes crucial that m-waste is disposed of in a proper manner. Also, after recycling, the materials obtained can be used to make useful items such as utensils and benches. In fact, metals extracted from e-waste are resold in the commodity market by recycling agencies not only in India but worldwide.
We have already discussed this in one of our earlier article.
Handset manufacturers have also a big role to play here. Many manufacturers are already making phones which are 80 per cent recyclable. Also, they make these handsets in such a way to reduce their carbon footprint by a significant amount.
For example, Nokia has e-waste dumpers where users can dump their old mobile phones. Another mobile company, Sony Ericsson has also launched GreenHeart programme in which it manufactures only green phones. The green phones later launched by the company had a reduced carbon footprint – about 15 per cent lower. The plastics used by the company were recycled, and solvents in the phones were also reduced. Sony Ericsson plans to cut emissions by 20 per cent before 2015.
Most of the carbon footprint reduction happens due to less use of paper in the packaging of the phone. Even the user manual was replaced with electronic user manual on the phone itself.
There are no plastic bags within the box either, and about 80 per cent of the plastic used in the phone is recycled plastic. The solvents in the paint have now been replaced by water soluble colours.
Sony Ericsson also intends to increase the scope of its recycling activities by collecting used phones from its customers. The company intends to collect one million phones starting this year itself. Some green activists, however, responded by saying the company should increase the number of its recycling points across the world.
We can also do our part to save the nature by choosing e-bill facilities instead of paper bills. This step alone will save large number of trees. For example, a report said that for every 3,000 bills that a company send to its customers, it has to cut one tree.
Now there are more mobile customers, users can easily imagine the effect of users opting for paper bills on the environment.