Recycling cellphones

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The Federation of Information, Communication and Organisational Technology Companies (SWICO) believes the return rate for old mobile phones is unacceptable. For PCs, the recycling rate is about 85%, but only 15% for mobile phones, according to SWICO. This means that in Switzerland about 1,000 tonnes of recyclable materials are wasted [each year]. SWICO wants recycling of cellphones to become as natural as recycling paper. To achieve this, it has started a marketing campaign, including a national day of action called 'True Value'. Over two days last May, many Swiss communes provided containers for dumping old mobile phones. An information campaign was also run in schools, says the Federation. In 2008, SWICO collected about 50,750 tonnes of electrical and electronic equipment from the computing, maintenance, communication and office equipment sectors, an increase of 3.5% compared to 2007.

The Saint-Gall EMPA (Swiss Federal Laboratories) tested and analysed 2008's flow of raw materials in recycling companies: about 24,000 tonnes, or almost half (47.3%) of the materials handled were metals such as steel, aluminium, copper, and stainless steel. These were followed by plastic with 11,977 tonnes (23.6%), and 7,816 tonnes of glass from CRTs (15.3%). About 406 tonnes (0.8%) of the materials handled were pollutants, primarily from batteries, condensers, and parts containing mercury. Components containing pollutants are sorted by the recycling companies and directed to a recycling and depollution process. Info: www.swico.ch (Umwelt Perspektiven, Switzerland, www.umweltperspektiven.ch)

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