Report: 223.1 million mobile phones gathering dust in U.S. homes

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A study by used electronics online shop reBuy tells us that U.S. consumers have 223.1 million unused phones in their homes, by far the highest number in any country studied.

The total number of shelved phones for all 27 countries in the index created by reBuy equates to a sales value of $2.3 billion in precious metals such as gold, silver, palladium, platinum, and copper.

E-waste comes in many forms, but mobile phones are among the biggest sources of waste, because they are considered the most disposable.

Whereas in the past, the majority of e-waste included products which had broken or become obsolete, technology trends and the pressure to have the ‘latest’ tech, particularly with cell phones, means that a growing amount of e-waste are products which have gone ‘out of fashion’ rather than defunct.

“With this index, we want to educate people about e-waste and help everyone to consider buying refurbished tech products to give technology a second life. Or if they do invest in new electronics, to make sure that they properly recycle their old items by looking up their local e-waste recycling facility, instead of throwing them onto landfill,” said Philipp Gattner, the CEO of reBuy.

“Almost all e-waste contains some type of recyclable material such as plastic, glass and metal, and by correctly recycling electronics, you reduce the amount of dangerous toxic chemicals such as lead and chromium leaking into our soil, resulting in a healthier, safer world,” Gattner said.

Sweden has the most shelved cell phones per capita, at 1.31, meaning that Swedes have more discarded phone models gathering dust in their homes than they have citizens.

Finland takes the second spot with 1.29 phones, while the UK, Lithuania, and Estonia take joint third place with 1.24 shelved cell phones per capita.

New Zealand has the least shelved cell phones per capita, at 0.54, followed by Canada and the USA, with 0.60 and 0.68 respectively.

A thought here: wouldn’t it be something if we could repurpose those unused phones?

“There are around 3 billion people on this planet who don’t own a cell phone, yet in just these 27 countries, there are an estimated 771 million shelved phones sitting in our homes,” Gattner said. “Many of these models will function perfectly fine but simply don’t conform to the latest model or trend. For so many of us in affluent countries, we forget what a luxury and a privilege it is to be able to connect to our loved ones or have access to an infinite encyclopedia of knowledge at the touch of a button.

“It would be amazing if this index helped to inspire people to properly recycle, donate or regift their old cell phones so that someone else in the world could benefit from this amazing technology that many of us sadly take for granted.”

Story by Chris Graham


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