The recent launch of the iPhone 8s and Xs has encouraged many people across the globe to replace their old smartphones with new ones, ultimately generating a massive amount of e-waste. And while some people try to do the right thing by participating in takeback or recycling programs, the process of recycling e-waste is a challenging one.
First, recyclers check to see if the electronics can be refurbished or reused. If so, they are wiped clean of data and either donated or resold on the secondary market. If the electronics cannot be refurbished or reused, they are sent to recycling plants to be broken down and shredded.
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This fall, iPhone 8s and Xs are hitting shelves across North America, setting in motion that most time-honored of rituals — the smartphone funeral.
Around 1.5 billion phones are sold a year, which means about as many get the heave-ho. With little ceremony, we shove them into drawers or pack them away into boxes.
Occasionally, we might just throw them away. We feel sheepish about it, and for good reason: Once trashed, they end up in landfills, leaching toxic chemicals into the soil. In fact, electronics account for up to 70 percent of landfills’ toxic waste.