The Dead Phone
If you’re thinking about chucking your cell phone, think twice: Most of the 128 million mobile phones currently in use in the U.S. will end up incinerated or at the bottom of a landfill, according to a report released by the environmental organization Inform and partly funded by the U.S. EPA. By 2005, 130 million cell phones will be discarded each year, resulting in 65,000 tons of electronic waste annually, whose toxic components accumulate in plants, soil, and water. It’s not just a U.S. problem — 1 billion cell phones are in use worldwide — but some other countries have started pressuring manufacturers to help with the cleanup. Australia has a nationwide take-back program, and Europe is about to go the same route. The EPA says it “is interested in working to encourage similar developments in the United States”; some U.S. companies, including Verizon and Sprint, do have take-back programs, but the industry opposes their mandatory implementation.