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Old mobile phones collections – make sense or do not make sense

 In Austria, the Ö3 Wundertüte is distributed to all households every year before Christmastime to encourage people to collect mobile phones - 412,000 in 2018. There are also competitions for schools to motivate students to gather mobiles. This is a campaign of the Austrian radio station Ö3. I like it. In the context of our project from Waste to Energy I have learned which valuable raw materials are used in mobile phones, how many people and especially children are exploited for them.
The more I have dealt with it, the more doubts I have had. I was wondering what actually happens to the old phones? Are they just thrown away, are they recycled in Europe? Will they land back in Africa and be recycled there by children and poor people under the most adverse circumstances, or will they perhaps be reused after all? I couldn't even imagine the latter - who needs a mobile phone that can only be used for making phone calls?
My research has taught me better than that. They first made me aware that it is not taken for granted everywhere in the world that at least all younger people own a mobile phone and certainly not one that is updated every 2 years.
They have also taught me that there are indeed young people who have a mobile phone that can only be used for making phone calls and texting, which helps them to build up an existence - start up would probably be called that in Austria. They buy e. g. agricultural products and sell them on to traders and they have to call them to find out who needs which products and who pays the best price.
The collected mobile phones also help children in Austria, as €1. 50 is paid for each collected mobile phone. The money earned in this way is passed on to the Youth Red Cross, young Caritas and the Licht in s Dunkel (light into darkness) campaign. These organisations support poor and disabled children and enable them to take holidays at home and abroad.
But they also taught me that every reused mobile phone is a social mobile phone. There are big companies that overhaul old phones and offer them cheap worldwide for people who can't afford an expensive one. After all, 2/3 of the collected mobile phones, i. e. approx. 275,000, can still be used. The remaining parts are legally dismantled - and not illegally in Africa by children under the most dangerous conditions - and most parts are recycled.
They also made me aware that every reused mobile phone is one that doesn't have to be rebuilt. This helps the environment massively, since in the phones are raw materials such as copper, coltan, gold and countless more. Their degradation is extremely damaging to the environment. In addition there is the ethical-moral aspect. The extraction of raw materials often takes place under inhumane conditions, often by children. The raw materials are also the reason for war and armed violence in many countries, for example in the Congo.
There's one thing we shouldn't forget: in every mobile phone there are tons of energy and virtual water.
So: use your mobile phone yourself for a long time and if you do use a new one, then put the old one in the Ö3 Wundertüte and don't let it get dusty at home.
For your information: from one ton of mobile phone scrap are approx. 200 kg non-recyclable, i. e. waste that has to be disposed of but 800 kg is reuseable materials.