Mobile Phone Composition

The ecological footprint of creating a mobile phone may be small, but the cumulative effect is quite significant on a global scale. As with all electronic equipment, mobile phones contain a range of substances that are harmful if the devices are not disposed of properly. About 70% of heavy metals, such as lead and mercury, in landfill sites come from e-waste (estimated at 15 million phones discarded in the UK each year but only 4% are recycled in 2004). Users on average replace their mobiles every 18 months.

A reasonable average weight percentage is:

  1. ABS-PC 29%
  2. Ceramics 16%
  3. Copper and compounds 15%
  4. Silicon Plastics 10%
  5. Epoxy 9%
  6. Other Plastics 8%
  7. Iron 3%
  8. PPS 2%
  9. Flame retardant 1%
  10. Nickel and compounds 1%
  11. Zinc and compounds 1%
  12. Silver and compounds 1%v
  13. Aluminium, tin, lead, gold, platinum group metals, manganese, etc. less than 1%

One tonne of discarded mobile phones contains around 100 kg (220 lb) of copper and 3 kg (6.6 lb) of silver, according to a study by recycling firm Yokohama Metal Co Ltd.

Amazon Books
Image of Personal, Portable, Pedestrian: Mobile Phones in Japanese Life
Author: Misa Matsuda, Daisuke Okabe, Mizuko Ito
Publisher: MIT Press (2005)
Binding: Hardcover, 368 pages