Electronics recycling and its environmental footprint
The “Fairphone” example
News published on 15 August 2017
In Germany, less than half of electronics waste is recollected again. Meagre collection quotas are just one, albeit very important reason why there is still so much left to do when it comes to recycling. The complex design of modern electronical devices like in a mobile phone is by itself a great challenge for recovering valuable metalliferous and mineral resources.
For example, the Fairphone 2 – a modular mobile phone produced by the company Fairphone seated in Amsterdam, Netherlands – is made up of 46 different materials ranging from metals to plastics. It is the first mobile the recyclability of which has been in the focus of a scientific analysis. The study was carried out by two experts for recycling and digitalization of the circular economy, Dr. Antoinette van Schaik (MARAS B.V.) and Prof. Markus Reuter of the HIF. The recycling of the mobile is affected positively by its modular design, the researchers found out. This refers to a recycling route where dismantling of the product into its modules, like camera, display or battery, is followed by different processes for recovering the materials used. Dismantling and recycling is also the best option in terms of the ecological footprint, in comparison with other recycling ways under investigation in the analysis as well, as reported by Fairphone in a current blog post.