Smartphone technology is evolving rapidly. Every year there are better cameras, performance, refresh rates, screens and batteries. Tempted by a host of new features, people can't help but upgrade to the latest model, but what happens to all the smartphones we go through?
The average lifespan of a smartphone is 3 to 4 years, perhaps even 5, but by that time the battery's capacity is likely to have decreased significantly. After an average lifespan has been reached, most people will throw away their smartphone and upgrade to a more recent model.
On average only 12,5% of electronic waste is recycled, with approximately 20 to 50 million metric tons of e-waste disposed of worldwide every year.
This is a huge problem for the environment due to the chemicals in these devices leaching into the groundwater system from landfills, polluting the land, water and air.
With companies constantly encouraging people to upgrade by stopping updates for older models, it renders them obsolete.
Not only is this a problem for the environment, but by throwing away these devices, we are wasting precious metals such as copper, silver, gold, palladium and other raw materials, that would require significant resources to mine and manufacture.
This is why it is important to recycle old cell phones and preserve these increasingly scarce materials where possible.
Here are some suggestions on how to alleviate these problems:
The bottom line is currently we change smartphones too often. There is no specific amount of time that you should keep the same phone but when changing, think about where your phone may end up if you don't recycle it, sell it or pass it on to someone else.
This story was originally published on my blog, The Detechtor where I cover stories on the impact of tech on our lives, if you're interested, check it out!