Cellphones: Pollution Solution

This article talks about the looming problem because of the burgeoning disposal of cellphones. The suggestion is to re-cycle the phone or sell it in developing countries.

The study by Inform said that on average a cellular telephone is kept only 18 months and in many cases thrown into a closet or drawer and finally discarded with the household garbage.

By 2005, there will be at least 200 million cell phones in use across the country and another 500 million older phones may be stockpiled in drawers, closets and elsewhere, waiting to be thrown away, the report estimates, based on expected market growth and cell phone purchases in recent years.

Travis Larson, a spokesman for CTIA, the wireless trade group, said the industry has collected more than a million used phones to date and wants to expand its recycling and “donate-a-phone” programs in which private groups collect phones and give proceeds to charity. Many of the phones taken back are resold in developing countries, he said.

I havent yet seen much of this happen in India. A new cellphone costs as less as USD 80-100 (Rs 4-5,000). But think about computers. A new computer costs as much as USD 500 (Rs 25,000). It should cost no more than a cellphone. The only way that will happen is if PCs from countries like the US can be re-cycled to the emerging markets. Shipping a PC is obviously going to be much more expensive than the cellphone. But what we are really interested in is the motherboard. Take that, add the keyboard, mouse, cabinet, network card and monitor locally, and use it as a thin client talking to a thick server, and watch computing touch the next 500 million users.

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.