The metal from discarded cell phones in Germany is sufficient to cover the material requirements for smartphones for the next ten years – purely in terms of calculations. This is the conclusion of a study by the Institute of the German Economy in Cologne. According to the study, the total metal value of unused cell phones in Germany is around 240 million euros.
The material value of the smartphones sold in 2021 would be 23.5 million euros. In a theoretical calculation, the drawer cell phones could therefore cover the material requirements for new smartphones for more than 10 years, according to the report published today.
It is imperative to recycle “drawer cell phones”.
However, the authors point out that the reality is different, “because not all drawer phones are recycled and, moreover, they are completely recyclable”. The drawer cell phones count to the so-called urban mine, as which raw material deposits are regarded, which are in already used products. Britta Bookhagen of the Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR) qualifies: “It is very difficult to estimate which raw materials will come back to us, how and when.”
For one thing, he says, it is neither clear how much steel or aluminum was used in a car or washing machine 50 years ago, nor how it can be recovered and processed in the most sensible way. What is needed here is better data.