According to the International Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Forum, 5.3 billion mobile phones will be discarded this year.
Despite the fact that they contain precious gold, copper, silver, palladium, and other recyclable components, nearly all of these old phones will be hoarded, dumped, or burnt, resulting in considerable health and environmental damage.
“People tend not to realise that all these seemingly insignificant items have a lot of value and together at a global level represent massive volumes,” WEEE director general Pascal Leroy said.
There are an estimated 16 billion mobile phones worldwide – and in Europe, almost a third are no longer in use.
The WEEE says its research shows the “mountain” of electrical and electronic waste – from washing machines and toasters to tablet computers and global positioning system (GPS) devices – will grow to 74 million tonnes a year by 2030.
Magdalena Charytanowicz, WEEE Forum’s Communication Manager, said: “These devices offer many important resources that can be used in the production of new electronic devices or other equipment, such as wind turbines, electric car batteries or solar panels – all crucial for the green, digital transition to low-carbon societies.”