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PRI's Environmental News Magazine

Business Note/Recycling Cellphones

Air Date: Week of August 16, 2002

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Living on Earth’s Jennifer Chu reports on a British campaign to recycle used cell phones for much-valued treasures.

Transcript

CURWOOD: Just ahead – considering the eel is next. First, this Environmental Business Note with Jennifer Chu.

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CHU: Inside very old cell phones is a treasure waiting to be mined. And a British telecommunications firm says it will gladly accept your old mobile. You can mail your unwanted phone to XS Tronix in London where it’ll be stripped for precious metals like gold, silver and palladium. The company says the estimated 90 million unwanted phones in the UK alone contain about $2 million in silver, $15 million in palladium, and $26 million in gold.

Older and bulkier phones tend to house more metals than newer models. After the precious metals are extracted, they’ll be smelted down, refined, and resold on the commodities market to jewelry makers and semi-conductor manufacturers. The company also plans to recycle the plastic in the phones. Recovering these cell phones could keep about 5,000 tons of electronic waste out of the landfills in the UK.

And there’s an incentive to recycle. People who turn in their old phones can get free movie tickets, free minutes on their monthly bill, or a donation to their favorite charity. That’s this week’s Business Note. I’m Jennifer Chu.

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CURWOOD: And you’re listening to Living on Earth.

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Links

XS Tronix website

 

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