The average mobile phone user knows quite a bit about the technology featured in their handset, but they may not be sure where there phone will end up when they come to upgrade.
The reality is that many phones end up in landfill sites. Mobile phone manufacturers increasingly take environmental factors into account and these are incorporated into the design and construction, where the use of hazardous materials and energy consumption are minimised. Added to this are initiatives in various parts of the world to encourage recycling.
90 zoos, aquaria and other wildlife facilities around the world are participating in the Ecocell programme. Toronto Zoo for instance takes redundant mobile phones and other electronic goods with the aim of reducing the need to mine coltan. This is a metallic ore that is required in the production of a metal powder that holds the electrical charge in mobile phones, laptops and other wireless devices. Coltan is concentrated in the rainforests of the former Congo Republic, where it is more straightforward to mine. Unfortunately, this is also the home of an endangered species – the lowland gorilla. Toronto Zoo will donate at least 45 cents into its Endangered Species Recovery Fund for every recycled phone received and thus support gorilla conservation.