Why recycling cell phones is a key to circularity and a sustainable future. 

November 8, 2023

Cell Phones 101, why recycling cell phones is a key to circularity and a sustainable future. 

In the era of smartphones, these sleek and ever-evolving devices have become an indispensable part of our lives. But have you ever wondered about the intricate components that make up your smartphone and the environmental impact associated with their production?

In this blog, we dissect the different parts of an average smartphone and shed light on the current  mining practices and abuses. You’ll see why recycling cell phones and other e-waste is not only imperative but extremely urgent.  

Circuit Boards: 

The heart of your smartphone, circuit boards contain several precious metals such as gold, silver, and copper. Mining gold can involve practices like mercury and cyanide usage, leading to environmental contamination and ecosystem disruption. Silver and copper mining can also contribute to deforestation, water pollution, and habitat degradation.  

Death toll in collapsed Zimbabwe gold mine expected to rise, vice president says


Smartphone batteries rely on metals like lithium, cobalt, and nickel. Cobalt mining, in particular, has been associated with child labor, hazardous working conditions, and ecological damage in some regions. Improper disposal can cause e-waste and further environmental damage.

Mining of cobalt, copper in DRC leading to human rights abuses: Report 


The vibrant display on your smartphone consists of components like indium and tin. Indium, mainly obtained from mining, can cause environmental harm through water pollution and waste generation.

Indium Recovery: A Key Mineral in The Technological Era


Microchips, the brains of your smartphone, contain metals like gold, silver, palladium, and copper. As mentioned earlier, mining these precious metals can result in deforestation, water pollution, and habitat disruption.

Gold Mining Is Poisoning the Planet With Mercury

Connectors and Wiring: 

Connectors and wiring within your smartphone often contain gold, silver, and copper. The extraction of these metals can contribute to water pollution, soil degradation, and ecosystem destruction.  

Study estimates 23M people may be affected by potentially dangerous concentrations of toxic waste from metal mining

Unveiling the truth behind your smartphone’s components brings to light the complex issues surrounding mining practices and their environmental impact. The negative practices associated with precious metal extraction not only call for urgent action towards responsible sourcing and sustainable mining, but also transparency in the electronics supply chain, and a focus on limiting e-waste and reclaiming and reusing the metals we’ve already mined.

At ReturnCenter, we are committed to providing responsible electronics recycling for cell phones, laptops, and tablets. Every device you send in not only stays out of landfills but also contributes to the circular economy where these precious metals can be reused and the need for dangerous mining and its effects are diminished. 

Every device really does make a difference, get started now. 



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