Taiwanese retire 9.5 million cellphones a year, but starting on Jan. 15 people will be able to recycle their old mobiles — rather than stash them in the back of their drawers — and help save the environment, the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) said yesterday.
EPA Minister Steven Shen (沈世宏) signed a “Memorandum for recycling waste mobile communication products” with 15 mobile service carriers and cellular phone makers, including Taiwan Mobile, Vibo Telecom, Chunghwa Telecom, Asia Pacific Telecom, Sony Ericsson, Nokia and Motorola.
Taiwan Mobile was the first carrier to initiate a recycling program. The company began to place recycling bins in its outlets in January.
“Nine-and-a-half million cellphones are replaced each year. However, only 18 percent are recycled, 44 percent are stashed at home and 36 percent are sold or given away,” Shen said.
Shen said that in addition to containing precious metals such as gold and silver, “as Taiwanese families on average use 3,816 units of electricity a year, the energy saved by recycling 10,000 old cellphones could power 57 families for a year.”
In other words, 140 tonnes of carbon emission could be saved, he said.
Recycling 10,000 cellphones could also yield 1kg of silver and about 330g of gold, he added.
If all the replaced cellphones were recycled, about 315kg of gold — approximately worth NT$283 million (US$8.6 million) — can be recollected.
To improve the recycling rate for old cellphones, the EPA began to negotiate with mobile service carriers in October, Shen said.
“From Jan. 15, people can bring their old cellphones to any of the 2,000-odd carrier outlets that bear the recycling logo on their doors to support environmental protection,” he said.
Additional information on the program is available at www.epa.gov.tw/mobilephone. People recycling their cellphones are advised to first delete all personal information to prevent information leaks.