Genuine Solutions Group is featured on the BBC News website
What is the fate of your old, surplus mobile phone when you decide to turn it in for recycling? BBC News visited Genuine Solutions recycling plant in south London to find out more – and the answers might just surprise you.
Mobile phones are everywhere, in fact there are more mobile phones than people in the UK alone. More than 28 million mobile phones were purchased in 2012, with that number set to increase year on year.
The impact that the recycling of mobile phones and smartphone has on the environment is huge, whether they work or not. Each and every mobile phone contains harmful chemicals, particularly in the batteries, which don’t break down in landfills. The handsets also contain valuable materials including gold, copper and lead which are costly to extract, and can be reused.
There are financial motives behind this type of recycling too, which is why companies like Genuine Solutions Group exist. Genuine Solutions Peter Johnston explained, the company sifts through thousands of phones each month, sent in by mobile phone companies and charities.
Carefully dismantling the phone, the company harvests the individual parts that still work. The best value resides, Mr Johnston explained, in recovering as many working parts as possible, in order to build new working phones.
Older models that have lost their cachet, may end up being sold on in developing countries. Newer models that have been rebuilt, can be sold to phone networks, or insurance companies who need to replace customer’s phones.