Thursday, 21 November 2013

Environmental Impacts: Recycle Your Old Mobile Phones

As human civilization has expanded and grown, the space we need to live is getting smaller and smaller. The advent of the industrial revolution and the capitalization of fossil fuels as a modern fuel source has obviously helped humankind thrive. However, the ecological and natural costs to this process can become astronomical. Every time someone throws out the garbage, that garbage is going into cramped landfills. The Environmental Protection Agency [EPA] states that the average human dumps out 4.4 pounds of waste into landfills a day. This waste ends up piling up with more and more waste within these cramped municipal or regional landfills. In addition, humans typically throw out products that should be disposed of with proper care, such as products containing acid. When those products enter into cramped landfills, the acids and metals can eat into the ground or nearby water supplies. Since landfills are getting crowded, the likelihood a hazardous waste product would overflow into water supplies or into the ground is very likely. In addition, a large amount of human garbage and waste does not even enter garbage dumps; instead, some human waste ends up on the ground or in water supplies.

All of this adds to pollution. Pollution is a multi-faceted term describing the process where hazardous material negatively overload ecosystems with chemicals those ecosystems cannot naturally decompose or destroy. The more pollution the human race has committed into the ecosystem, the more detrimental effects to the environment and to human health. One of the most popularly known effects to pollution has been the destruction of the ozone layer. The ozone layer is a shield composed of the compound ozone, which is made up of concentrated oxygen atoms. The ozone layer shields the earth from most of the Sun's ultraviolet radiation. Over the century, human civilization's consumption of specific products and pollution led to waste products, like chlorine, to enter into the atmosphere. Chemicals like chlorine can destroy the atomic bonds in ozone, ultimately minimizing the amount of ozone in the atmosphere. As a result, the ozone layer has depleted, increasing worries that ultraviolet radiation regularly passes through the Earth's atmosphere causing human, animal, and plant-life health issues and ecological destruction, such as polar ice cap melting from the increased heat.

However, very recently, the rate of the ozone depletion has reversed. Scientists attribute this to human consumption patterns, including properly disposing chemicals like chlorine and recycling. Recycling has proven to be an important process to reducing human waste around the world. Recycling helps to properly destroy hazardous materials without the materials entering into the ecosystem. Over the last few decades, recycling technology has gotten better and more efficient. This has led to more waste materials and products the opportunity to be recycled, including products that humans throw away at an incredible rate. One such product that is thrown away at a rapid rate are cell phones.

Cell phones play an integral part to everyone's lives globally. Half of the global human population uses a cell phone. The cell phone has revolutionized how people communicate, whether it is through calls, texts, or using social media and Smartphone operating systems to communicate and find information. However, like any piece of technology, cell phones become obsolete, so more humans need to buy more phones every now and again. That can be an avenue for waste. Many of those phones being discarded into the trash can have very hazardous materials in them. For example, cell phones batteries can leak acids into the ground, into water supplies, or through gases that enter into the atmosphere. These chemicals include mercury, lead, arsenic, and cadmium, all of which are dangerous to human health and the general ecosystem in very large amounts.

Since cell phone use is in the billions and the amount of the cell phones that have been thrown away can be astronomical, properly recycling these products will radically reduce the amount of metallic and acidic waste entering into the ecosystem. Recycling cell phones can be one of the latest environmentally-friendly trends that can reduce waste, pollution, and harmful ecological effects, like the reduction of the ozone layer.


Sources:

http://www.epa.gov/osw/nonhaz/municipal/index.htm

http://zoology.muohio.edu/oris/cunn06/cs6_23.htm

http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2012/oct/HQ_12-371_2012_Ozone_Hole.

html http://www.treehugger.com/clean-technology/the-environmental-costs-and-benefits-of-our-cell-phones.html

http://www.climatechangechallenge.org/News/Featured-Articles/how_recycling_mobile_phones_can_benefit_the_environment.htm

http://www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/8818.html

About the author and infographic source:

Love2Recycle have offices based in the UK and Europe, offering you money for your old mobile phone.



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