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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

Business Note/Cell Phone Recycling

Air Date: Week of

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Living on Earth’s Jennifer Chu reports on an international effort to recycle cell phones.


CURWOOD: Just ahead, rethinking how the federal government manages our forests. First, this Environmental Business Note from Jennifer Chu.


CHU: Ten major cell phone manufacturers have taken the first step towards establishing the first global cell phone recycling system. Nokia, Sony-Eriksson and Motorola are among the companies that recently signed an agreement to explore more environmentally sound management of old and obsolete phones. The initiative is part of an international treaty to handle the disposal of hazardous waste.

Platinum, silver, cadmium and mercury are just some of the materials found in an average cell phone. Individual nations have set up recycling programs to retrieve these metals in phones for later use. And several manufacturers already recycle old phones by reselling them at a lower price to consumers in developing countries.

Other companies, like Motorola, are improving the design of their phones to have less of an environmental impact, making newer models lighter by using less metal.

According to the independent research firm, Inform, Incorporated, an average cell phone, including handset, batteries and adapter, would create one pound of waste. In the U.S. alone, the organization estimates that 130 million cell phones will be retired each year. This could add 65,000 tons to the waste stream by 2005. That's this week's Business Note. I'm Jennifer Chu.

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

[MUSIC: Booker T & the MG’s, “Groovin” UNKNOWN (Stax Records)]



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