Almost 100 per cent of the materials in mobile phones can be recycled, such as precious metals, plastics and glass. For example, last year, Nokia recycled about 38 tonnes of “e-waste” in the region.
Globally, it is estimated that 44 per cent of old mobile phones are lying in drawers at home and not being recycled, providing potential for players to utilise and recycle the resources.
In the region, some industry players said that the area with the most participation from consumers coming forward to recycle their phones is Australia, but public participation in Asia is also on the rise. Read more
Green Business Times went for a site visit recently to check out how Nokia and its e-waste vendor, TES-AMM (Singapore) Pte Ltd, collects and recycles old mobile phones.
Nokia has the largest voluntary mobile phone recycling scheme worldwide, with takeback and collection facilities in over 5,000 Nokia Care Centres across 85 countries.
In Singapore, Nokia currently has collection points in all Nokia Care Centres at Wheelock Place, Century Square, Parkway Parade, Causeway Point and Suntec City. Take back facilities are also available in NUS, NTU, SMU, Nanyang Polytechnic, Temasek Polytechnic, St Margaret Secondary, St Hilda Primary and Secondary, and Saint Andrew JC.
In July 2008, Nokia launched the deployment of the Nokia Recycling Kiosks (NRK), which are automated recycling kiosks, in Malaysia and Singapore. Nokia is also running the ‘Recycle A Phone & Adopt A Tree’ program in Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia. With every phone sent for recycling, customers will receive a tree in their name planted under the NEWTrees initiative. This is a collaboration between Nokia, WWF Indonesia and Equinox Publishing, and Nokia has committed funds towards the planting of 100,000 trees in Indonesia.
In Singapore, Nokia is working with TES-AMM to recycle raw materials from the mobile phones collected. The raw materials recovery rate at TES-AMM is as high as 99%. Many different materials and precious metals can be recycled from mobile phones and made into new products, including:
- Plastic: Plastic is largely used on the covers and external parts of a mobile device. They are turned into plastic pallets to be used in warehousing.
- Stainless Steel: This is used on external detailing phone covers and some internal components. It can be recycled and used again in all sorts of products from mobile devices, to kitchen kettles, ovens and in bicycle frames.
- Copper: Copper is used in a mobile phone’s circuitry and printed wiring boards. It can be recycled into copper pipes or to make musical instruments.
- Gold: Small amounts of gold are used in a mobile phone to coat connectors and electrical surfaces. It can be recycled and used again in other mobile and electronic devices, dental fillings or to make jewellery.
- Platinum: This is used in the electrical components of a mobile phones. It can be reclaimed and used in catalytic convertors for passenger cars, for equipment, dental filling or in jewellery.
- Cobalt and lithium salt: These rare earth metals are recovered from recycled batteries and are re-made into lithium ion batteries.
Here are some photos taken during the site visit at TES-AMM’s recycling facility:
Mobile phone recycling
Manual dismantling of old mobile phones
Sorting of components
Crushing of circuit boards and sieving
Ferrous metal separation
Crushed circuit boards
Crushed circuit boards undergo hammer mill and electrostatic separation to get:
Fibrous powder (for making plastic pallets)
Metal powder (contains 60-70% copper)
Fibrous powder and other waste plastics used to make plastic pallets by heat extrusion
Chemical processes to extract gold from components
Li-ion battery recycling