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Mobile Phone And Battery Recycling In Mauritius Environmental Sciences Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Environmental Sciences
Wordcount: 2377 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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The mobile phone industry, because of its desire to maintain high environmental standards, has voluntarily developed the Mobile Phone Industry Recycling Program. The program aims to ensure that potentially toxic components in mobile phones and batteries do not end up in landfill, but rather are recycled.

Orange (Mauritius) and Mission Verte joint green initiative has launched a collection & recycling campaign for old phones and wasted batteries. The aim was to reduce noxious liquid that may be released from the battery and cause harm to the environment for example contaminating the water in Mauritius while other parts of the phone will be recycled. Collection or disposable points will be situated in all Orange shop outlets across the island. For the period year 2007, according to the Central Statistics, Mauritius has imported a whopping  175,000 cellular phones while batteries 25 million batteries.

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In Mauritius, Orange has launched a national program to develop the recycling of mobile phones and batteries in partnership with BEM Enterprises Ltd, the Port Louis Citadelle Rotary Club and the Mission Verte association. Some 15 collection points have been set up at Orange stores. The collected equipment is grouped together and then transported to the BEM Enterprises sorting centre. Plastics and metals are routed to local recycling centres. Batteries, chargers and other electronic circuits for which there is no local processing channel are sent to Europe for recovery at approved recycling centres.



Most batteries contain heavy metals which is the main cause for environmental concern. Disposed of incorrectly, the heavy metals may leak into the ground when the battery erodes. This contributes to soil and water pollution and endangers wildlife. Some components in batteries can be toxic to fish and make them unfit for human consumption.


Batteries contain a range of metals which can be reused as a secondary raw material. There are well-established methods for the recycling of most batteries containing lead, nickel-cadmium, nickel hydride and mercury. For some, such as newer nickel-hydride and lithium systems, recycling is still in the early stages.

Mobile phone & Battery recycling in UK

It is estimated that in 2000, almost 19,000 tonnes of waste general purpose batteries and 113,000 tonnes of waste automotive batteries required disposal in the UK.  

Currently, only a very small percentage of consumer disposable batteries are recycled (less than 2%) and most waste batteries are disposed of in landfill sites. The rate for recycling of consumer rechargeable batteries is estimated to be 5%. 

The average household uses 21 batteries a year. The UK generates 20,000 – 30,000 tonnes of waste general purpose batteries every year, but less than 1,000 tonnes are recycled.

Automotive batteries, on the other hand, are more routinely recycled in the UK, with a current recycling rate of approximately 90%.  They are collected at garages, scrap metal facilities and many civic amenity and recycling centres.

Whilst the exact chemical make-up varies from type to type (see below), most batteries contain heavy metals, which are the main cause for environmental concern. When disposed of incorrectly, these heavy metals may leak into the ground when the battery casing corrodes.  This can contribute to soil and water pollution and endanger wildlife. Cadmium, for example, can be toxic to aquatic invertebrates and can bio-accumulate in fish, which damages ecosystems and makes them unfit for human consumption. Some batteries, such as button cell batteries, also contain mercury, which has similarly hazardous properties.  Mercury is no longer being used in the manufacture of non-rechargeable batteries, except button cells where it is a functional component, and the major European battery suppliers have been offering mercury-free disposable batteries since 1994.

A number of valuable materials are used in the construction of mobile phones, and they contain components which, if carefully removed, can be used again, for example in electronic devices.

Perhaps more importantly, some cell phones and their accessories contain substances that are amongst the 10 most dangerous known to man including Cadmium, Rhodium, Palladium, Beryllium and Lead Solder (Ref: Cellular Reclamation Ltd, Nov 2004) and most of this ends up in a land fill site or the sea. Now with so many convenient mobile phone recycling schemes around, there’s no need for this – and no excuse for not recycling your old phone

% of material recycled all over the worldg-waste_recyc_material-m.gif

Paper recycling

Paper recycling is the process of recovering waste paper and remaking it into new paper products. There are three categories of paper that can be used as feedstocks for making recycled paper: mill broke, pre-consumer waste, and post-consumer waste.

Mill broke is paper trimmings and other paper scrap from the manufacture of paper, and is recycled internally in a paper mill.

Pre-consumer waste is material which left the paper mill but was discarded before it was ready for consumer use.

Post-consumer waste is material discarded after consumer use, such as old corrugated containers (OCC), old magazines, old newspapers (ONP), office paper, old telephone directories, and residential mixed paper (RMP). Paper suitable for recycling is called “scrap paper”. The industrial process of removing printing ink from paperfibers of recycled paper to make deinked pulp is called deinking, an invention of the German jurist Justus Claproth.

Water and air pollution

The United States Environmental Protection Agency‎ (EPA) has found that recycling causes 35% less water pollution and 74% less air pollution than making virgin paper. Pulp mills can be sources of both air and water pollution, especially if they are producing bleached pulp. Modern mills produce considerably less pollution than those of a few decades ago. Recycling paper decreases the demand for virgin pulp and thus reduces the overall amount of air and water pollution associated with paper manufacture. Recycled pulp can be bleached with the same chemicals used to bleach virgin pulp, but hydrogen peroxide and sodium hydrosulfite are the most common bleaching agents. Recycled pulp, or paper made from it, is known as PCF (process chlorine free) if no chlorine-containing compounds were used in the recycling process. However, recycling mills may have polluting by-products, such as sludge. De-inking at Cross Pointe’s Miami, Ohio mill results in sludge weighing 22% of the weight of wastepaper recycled.

Recycling facts and figures

In the mid-19th century, there was an increased demand for books and writing material. Up to that time, paper manufacturers had used discarded linen rags for paper, but supply could not keep up with the increased demand. Books were bought at auctions for the purpose of recycling fiber content into new paper, at least in the United Kingdom, by the beginning of the 19th century.

Internationally, about half of all recovered paper comes from converting losses (pre-consumer recycling), such as shavings and unsold periodicals; approximately one third comes from household or post-consumer waste.

Some statistics on paper consumption:

The average per capita paper use worldwide was 110 pounds (50 kg).

It is estimated that 95% of business information is still stored on paper. [Source: International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) Discussion Paper (IIED, London, September 1996)]

Recycling 1 short ton (0.91 t) of paper saves 17 mature trees, 7 thousand US gallons (26 m3) of water, 3 cubic yards (2.3 m3) of landfill space, 2 barrels of oil (84 US gal or 320 l), and 4,100 kilowatt-hours (15 GJ) of electricity – enough energy to power the average American home for six months.

Although paper is traditionally identified with reading and writing, communications has now been replaced by packaging as the single largest category of paper use at 41% of all paper used.

115 billion sheets of paper are used annually for personal computers. The average web user prints 28 pages daily.

Most corrugated fiberboard boxes have over 25% recycled fibers. Some are 100% recycled fiber.

This article’s factual accuracy may be compromised because of out-of-date information.

Paper recycling by region

European Union

Paper recovery in Europe has a long history and has grown into a mature organization. The European papermakers and converters work together to meet the requirements of the European Commission and national governments. Their aim is the reduction of the environmental impact of waste during manufacturing, converting/printing, collecting, sorting and recycling processes to ensure the optimal and environmentally sound recycling of used paper and board products. In 2004 the paper recycling rate in Europe was 54.6% or 45.5 million short tons (41.3 Mt). The recycling rate in Europe reached 64.5% in 2007, which confirms that the industry is on the path to meeting its voluntary target of 66% by 2010.


Municipal collections of paper for recycling are in place. However, according to the Yomiuri Shimbun (Japanese newspaper published in Tokyo, Osaka, Fukuoka, and other major Japanese cities), in 2008, eight paper manufacturers in Japan have admitted to intentionally mislabeling recycled paper products, exaggerating the amount of recycled paper used.

United States of America

Recycling has long been practiced in the United States. The history of paper recycling has several dates of importance:

1690: The first paper mill to use recycled linen was established by the Rittenhouse family.

1896: The first major recycling center was started by the Benedetto family in New York City, where they collected rags, newspaper, and trash with a pushcart.

1993: The first year when more paper was recycled than was buried in landfills.

Today, over half of the material used to make paper is recovered waste. Paper products are the largest component of municipal solid waste, making up more than 40% of the composition of landfills. In 2006, a record 53.4% of the paper used in the US (or 53.5 million tons) was recovered for recycling. This is up from a 1990 recovery rate of 33.5%. The US paper industry has set a goal to recover 55 percent of all the paper used in the US by 2012. Paper packaging recovery, specific to paper products used by the packaging industry, was responsible for about 77% of packaging materials recycled with more than 24 million pounds recovered in 2005.

By 1998, some 9,000 curbside programs and 12,000 recyclable drop-off centers had sprouted up across the US for recycles collection. As of 1999, 480 materials recovery facilities had been established to process the collected materials.

In 2008, the global financial crisis resulted in the price of old newspapers to drop in the US from $130 to $40 per short ton ($140/t to $45/t) in October.

Recycling Plastic Bottles ( UK )

Plastic bottles can be found almost anywhere on Earth. This attests to the fact of their usefulness and to the ease and low cost in making these items. Indeed plastic bottles are so useful that almost any liquid beverage or food product can be found being sold in plastic bottles.

So why do we recycle? The practice of recovering scraps and waste plastic and reprocessing these materials into new products is called recycling.

Recycling makes use of materials that are at the end of their useful lives which otherwise would be added to the waste stream and end up in landfills or (sadly) in the ocean and on our shores.

Recycled plastic bottles are an indispensable and ubiquitous part of our lives. They are light in weight and almost unbreakable when used for their designed purpose. This is also the reason why plastics and plastic bottles account for a large part of the waste generated by our throwaway society. Plastic bottles are the most recycled plastic items but still the recycle rate is only about 24 percent.  

What are the benefits to recycling plastic bottles?

Conservation of Oil. When a ton of plastic bottles are recycled approximately 3.8 barrels of petroleum is saved.

 Reduction of Greenhouse Gas emissions. The substitution of recycled materials reduces the emission of greenhouse gases that are produced in the manufacturing of virgin materials.

Saving of Landfill Space. Not having millions of plastic bottles in the landfill results in a saving of 6.7 cubic meters of landfill space that is at a premium right now. Plastic bottles also take an average of 500 years to biodegrade.

Conservation of Energy. Water and soft drink bottles are made of polyethylene terephthalate or PET.  Recycling of one pound of PET results in a saving of approximately 12,000 BTU’s (British Thermal Units).

Benefits of Reuse. Recycled bottles can provide an environmentally friendly source of materials for the manufacture of new products and substitutes recycle materials for virgin materials.

Recycling Plastic Bottles / Is the Recycling of Plastic Bottles Economically Feasible?

Up to the present there is still continuing discussion and debate over whether the recycling of plastic bottles is economically feasible. Local government units and municipalities largely see the fiscal benefits of recycling plastic bottles because of the savings in landfill space and reduced landfill costs.

Statistics from a Technical University of Denmark study show that recycling is still the most efficient method to dispose of household waste in 83 percent of all cases. Critics of recycling often claim that more resources are wasted in recycling than is saved. However municipal recycling is still worthwhile if the net costs do not exceed the landfill or other disposal costs.


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