Phone Recycling in Shenzhen China

4 Aug

Bryan-Robert F. Martinez                                                                                           Prof. Canilao

2008-09633                                                                                                                 SocSci 180


Phone Recycling in Shenzhen China


Phone recycling is one of the newest trend in environmental projects and programs in different countries around the world. Many organizations in the world, whether it is government or non-government organizations, supports the advocacies of phone recycling as a solution to the depleting natural resources of the planet. It is also a means of minimizing the pollution brought about by the improper disposal of defective phones which can be harmful to any life forms because of its radioactive content.

China is one of the biggest countries in the world that is why it is also has the largest mobile phone user population, approximately 889 million in number (Nokia Blogs, 2011). Because of a large number of phone users, it may also imply a large number of phones discarded yearly.  It is very appropriate for the Chinese people to recycle or reuse discarded mobile phones to minimize problems regarding discarded mobile phones disposal.

Based on the evidences that I have collected, I came up with different inferences regarding the issue of phone recycling:

  1. Phone recycling in China and even in other parts of the world is a new form of “economic trend” which provides gratification for phone users and also for mobile phone companies.


  1. Phone recycling is one way of popularizing the image of mobile companies.


  1. It is also a form of justification for the lavishness and materialist characteristics of human beings.


In the first statement, I stated that phone recycling is a new form of “economic trend”. Phone Recycling is economic in the sense that it serves monetary advantage for the users, sellers and mobile companies.  For the users of mobile phones, when the unit is not working anymore there are different mobile stores who pays cash upon surrendering of the defective or obsolete mobile units (Caitlin, 2011). On the side of the seller, buying defective phones is another mean for generating income. For instance, in Hua Qiang Bei there are two large buildings that are primarily dedicated to cellular phones which are traded as commodities or as raw materials and some outdoor vendors have so few phones that it looks like they personally collected them from trashcans to sell them in the adjacent street market (Kousemaker, 2011). The economic benefit of the mobile companies will be the mobile phone material which can be reused that will help the manufacturer to avoid further purchasing of same material and to save a good amount of money (Caitlin, 2011).

Second is that recycling of phones is a mean for popularizing the image of mobile phone companies. For instance is the “Green Box” project of Nokia Corporation which started in 2005 in China (Admin, 2011). In the same year, China Mobile launched a long-term environmental protection program, encouraging customers to put their used mobile phones and electronic accessories into green boxes which were placed by the company in over 1,000 of its business halls located in 40 cities but the program stopped before the end of 2010 because the contract between the China Mobile and a equipment recycling company “has expired” (Beibei, 2011). Two years earlier, Samsung signed the Declaration on Environmentally-Friendly Disposal of Used Mobile Phones in which was prepared under the auspices of the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) of China where Samsung is implementing campaigns to raise people’s awareness of the importance of environmental protection and encouraging the recycling of used mobile phones (Samsung, n.d.). All of these projects of different cell phone companies won positive reputation and widespread social attention from different organization and mobile consumers. Although, it is also evident that all of these projects were merely a form of publicity stunt because according to a survey conducted by the Nokia Corporation, there is less than 1% of discarded phones that were recycled in China (Admin, 2011). The result of the survey was ironic in the sense that the one who conducted the survey is also responsible for the phone recycling project.

Lastly, phone recycling is form of justification for the lavishness of human beings when it comes to mobile gadgets. It is very obvious that there are various models of mobile phones. Mobile manufacturers releases different cell phone models oftenly that the mobile users tend to buy the latest models while disregarding their old ones. Because of our unlimited wants and our lavishness, we opt to find an alternative way to dispose our old things to buy new ones. Phone recycling is a means to safely dispose of, and recycle old mobiles in an environmentally friendly way for cash (Mckoy, 2011). Because we don’t need our old phones, we can just sell them to a recycling shop that pays cash that we can use for other things, probably buying a new mobile phone or anything else.

Phone recycling is indeed a very much help in conserving and protecting our planet’s natural resources, however, behind this projects lays internal motives of different people or group of people who will do everything to maximize their benefit regarding the matter. In the end of the day, the subject matter is still debatable and open for contentions and suggestions from anyone who is really concern about the issue.










How China recycles millions of cellphones every year – Nokia Nseries. (2005, March 11). Nokia Blogs. Retrieved June 20, 2011, from

Caitlin, A. (2011, March 11). Recycle Mobiles – Show Some Courtesy Towards Your Home Planet, The Earth! . Breaking News, Current Events, Latest News and World Events at Retrieved June 20, 2011, from

Kousemaker, D. (2011, May 8). Shenzhen – Phone recycling [via Techtravels, David Kousemaker] – ewaste workshop. ewaste workshop. Retrieved June 20, 2011, from

Admin (2011, Aprill 22) Mobile Phone Recycling in China – Less Than 1% of Discarded Cell . Retrieved June 20, 2011, from

Beibei, J. (2011, February 18). Activists urge phone recycling – GlobalTimes. Globaltimes_china news_chinese_news. Retrieved June 20, 2011, from

SAMSUNG. (n.d.). SAMSUNG. Retrieved June 20, 2011, from

Mckoy. (2010, January 25). How Mobile Phone Recycling Helps People and the Environment. Scribd. Retrieved June 20, 2011, from




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