Tue | Sep 25, 2018

Letter of the day: Recycle rather than disposing mobile phones

Published:Monday | June 29, 2015 | 12:00 AM


I take keen interest in an article published in The Gleaner on June 25, 2015 titled 'Jamaicans logging on to e-wasted disposal project'. The article states that "Jamaicans are supporting the initiative to dispose of old and outdated electronic devices - most of which are no longer being used - in a responsible way". This is a good sign and I commend those who are the architects of this initiative.

This project facilitates the collection of old mobile phones, printers, keyboards, computer monitors, laptops, mouse, charger, cable as well as other electronic devices. However, I wish to focus on the collection of old mobile phones.

The article also stated that "data from the project will be used to inform a draft document by the NSWMA (National Solid Management Waste Authority), which will be submitted to the relevant ministers, and form part of the legislation to address the safe collection, transportation and disposal of electronic waste", but I urge the NSWMA not to dispose of old mobile phones. Rather, consider the option of recycling.

The recycling of mobile phones can open doors for employment opportunity as well as to create a new industry that can be beneficial. The University of California Santa Barbara published a study in 2010 on the subject, called Economics of Cell Phone Reuse and Recycling, that states the value of reused and recycling cell phones. According to the study, in 2006 the average cost for US cell phone refurbishers ReCellular, PaceButler and RMS was US$2.10 while the average revenue from the said phones was US$17. Even though the revenue from recycling the internal parts is much less - being at US$0.75 - it is very volume dependent, which means the more cell phones, the more revenue.

I understand that Jamaica might not have the technology or resources to tap into this industry, therefore, I suggest that we partner with investors to get this project underway. It might not be a multimillion-dollar industry, who knows I could be wrong, but it is a viable option that Jamaica can consider, given that it's backed by effective market research and potential gains.