As a Recycle Week challenge, we will be asking employees to search their homes for old mobile phones and bring them in for recycling. How can we overcome people’s tendency to hoard their old tech?

Q

As a Recycle Week challenge, we will be asking employees to search their homes for old mobile phones and bring them in for recycling. How can we overcome people’s tendency to hoard their old tech?

A

This is a good choice of recycling challenge, as so many people are hoarding unused phones. A recent study of 2,353 UK adults by the Royal Society of Chemistry found that 96% were storing one or more small technology items (including laptops, mobile phones and MP3 players), at home. Two thirds of these people were planning to hoard the gadgets indefinitely. The average home contains between 1-3 unused mobile phones, which together are worth a staggering £6.86 billion.

Many old phones and gadgets have a value on the second hand market. More importantly, phones contain scarce and valuable minerals such as gold and the rare earths. For example, smartphone screens are embedded with the rare earths europium and terbium. Some of these are at risk of running out in as little as 11 years; others are mined only in China which has a near-monopoly on the market for rare earths (due partly to its acceptance of low environmental standards in mining and processing).

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