The phone in your pocket contains many precious metals which would be very beneficial to recover and recycle. As they are in the phones in relatively small quantities, the answer to the question is probably not. But with mobile phones it’s the numbers game that counts. There are hundreds of millions floating around the UK and the environmental impact of producing them creates a burden which could be dramatically reduced. This talk will investigate the impact they cause, how we express it, how it could be mitigated and how business models may be changed to extract the value hidden within them. And if you have any old, unused phones at home, bring them along: they can be used as a demonstration of releasing value and you might be allowed to tear it apart! If you don’t have one to bring, there will still be the opportunity to play Operation on a giant phone.
Dr James Suckling is a Research Fellow at the University of Surrey, where he works on the CLEVER Project (Closed Loop Emotionally Valuable E-waste Recovery). The multidisciplinary project investigates the environmental and social impacts of mobile phones as well as new materials and business models to improve metals recovery at end of life. His research focuses on the environmental assessment of the phones themselves and the other aspects of the project under development, with emphasis on understanding where the environmental impact may be reduced and the barriers to doing so.