A questionnaire survey and interviews were conducted in households and end-of-life (EoL) mobile phone business centres in Hong Kong. Widespread Internet use, combined with the rapid evolution of modern social networks, has resulted in the more rapid obsolescence of mobile phones, and thus a tremendous increase in the number of obsolete phones. In 2013, the volume of EoL mobile phones generated in Hong Kong totalled at least 330 tonnes, and the amount is rising. Approximately 80% of electronic waste is exported to Africa and developing countries such as mainland China or Pakistan for recycling. However, the material flow of the large number of obsolete phones generated by the territory's households remains unclear. Hence, the flow of EoL mobile phones in those households was analysed, with the average lifespan of a mobile phone in Hong Kong found to be just under two years (nearly 23 months). Most EoL mobile phones are transferred to mainland China for disposal. Current recycling methods are neither environmentally friendly nor sustainable, with serious implications for the environment and human health. The results of this analysis provide useful information for planning the collection system and facilities needed in Hong Kong and mainland China to better manage EoL mobile phones in the future.
Journal of Environmental Management – Elsevier
Published: Sep 15, 2017
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