Mobile phones (or cellphones) are developing very fast, it almost seems that every time an advertisement comes on - it shows yet a new upgraded version of the phone that is in use. This applied to all brands. Now, once a new upgraded phone is acquired, the old superseded one needs to be disposed of.

Recycling programs specifically for phones have been around for a while. Around here, a recycling bag is included in the new phone box. However, it is not clear just how effective these recycling programs are.

So the question is, from a global perspective, are phone recycling programs keeping pace with the rate of phone upgrades?

By 'keeping pace', I am referring to for every phone that is upgraded, the superseded phone is recycled, rather than sent to landfill.

  • 5
    Not an answer, but something you might be interested in is Phonebloks. The goal of this online community is to build a phone that consists entirely of small modules that can be replaced easily (if something breaks down or if you want to upgrade parts). Currently Motorola is building a prototype.
    – THelper
    Commented Jan 2, 2014 at 9:03

1 Answer 1


As you've defined "keeping pace," the answer is inevitably no. All one has to find to prove it is an image of a fairly new phone in a landfill, or in a sculpture by Thomas Hirschhorn, e.g.: enter image description here

Looser definitions of keeping pace might be more realistic and informative, such as whether recycling programs are growing enough to match the pace of change in phone waste, or whether the rate of recycling for brand new phones (i.e., disregarding upgrades from phones that were purchased in used condition) is anywhere near 100%. My hunch is pessimistic even for these questions, but I don't have any actual statistics in hand, so I'd encourage anyone else who might to post another answer describing whatever progress has been made, even if it's short of keeping pace with every phone upgrade.

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