The Disadvantages of Recycling Mobile Phones

cell phone image by Alexey Klementiev from

Recycling saves energy and prevents unnecessary waste. However, recycling mobile phones carries some disadvantages, including issues of toxic waste byproducts and problems with personal information contained in most cell phones.

Personal Information

Many people keep information in their cell phones that is potentially harmful in the wrong hands. Identity thieves and other criminals could obtain contact information, addresses and even Social Security numbers from old cell phones. Clearing the cell phones of all information before recycling is one way to combat this issue.

Toxicity Levels

Mobile phones contain toxic elements, like mercury, cadmium and lead. The recycling process for such products is difficult, and toxic waste left over from the recycling process often ends up in trash dumping sites. The soil and water sources surrounding dumping areas are negatively affected by these toxins.

Other Disadvantages

Mobile phones consist of a variety of different metals and plastic components. Separating the different metals poses a problem for many cell phone recyclers. In addition, certain plastics cannot be recycled. In fact, less than 10 per cent of the total plastic used in America is recyclable.