China discards 80 million phones and none are being recycled

China does not have any company or institutions to properly recycle the mobile devices.
By Elizabeth Shim  |  Nov. 13, 2015 at 2:39 PM
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HONG KONG, Nov. 13 (UPI) -- China's mobile phone users are discarding 80 million devices annually, and none of the gadgets are being recycled.

The phones instead are being tossed into the garbage headed for landfills, where they are adding to the country's mounting environmental pollution, South Korean news agency Yonhap reported.

According to China's Xin Kuai Bao, Chinese phone users have one of the highest mobile phone turnover rates in the world. On average, a Chinese phone user discards an old phone every 8-12 months, a shorter time span than in the United States, where users switch phones every 18 months.

Most phone users in China, however, do not dispose of their devices at recycling centers, and the recycling rate in the country stands at 9-10 percent of the global recycling average. Few phone users resell their devices because used phones are not in high demand, and in the absence of a recycling culture, most mobile customers toss their phone into the household trash.

Cellphones and other mobile devices contain lead, cadmium and toxic mercury and can contaminate water supplies and the soil when discarded into a landfill. The battery of most Chinese cellphones is 100 times more toxic than other non-rechargeable batteries and has the capacity to pollute 15,850 gallons of water, according to the report.

China does not have any company or institution to properly recycle the mobile devices, nor are there firms that provide services to separate the precious metals contained in the phones.

Smartphones, however, are increasingly popular with China's urbanizing middle class, and phone manufacturers like Xiaomi, also known as "China's Apple," have been earning unprecedented revenue.

On Singles' Day, a commercial holiday where shoppers can hunt for bargains, Xiaomi said it was the top seller on Alibaba's online marketplace Tmall.com, making $196.3 million in 24 hours, CNBC reported.

This year's Singles' Day was the largest shopping day in history.

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