Nokia makes rubbish handset

Finnish mobile phone manufacturer Nokia has unveiled a handset entirely made of recycled materials, including plastic from used water bottles and rubber from old tyres.

The phone, which was showcased yesterday at the Mobile World Congress (formerly 3GSM) in Barcelona, is unlikely to see mainstream production, but it “is designed to help inspire and stimulate discussion on how mobile devices might be made in the future”, according to the company.

“The idea behind the concept was to see if it was possible to create a device made from nothing new,” according to a company statement. “It has been designed using recycled materials that avoid the need for natural resources, reduce landfill and allow for more energy-efficient production.”

The proliferation of mobile phones across the world and the frequency with which they are replaced mean that despite each handset having a relatively small carbon footprint, the total mobile phone industry has a significant environmental impact.
According to mobile service provider Green Mobile, 100 million phones are thrown away each year in Europe. The disposal of handsets introduces potentially hazardous materials including cadmium, lead and bromide into the environment.

Black-market sales of the compound coltan, which is used in the manufacture of the capacitors found in mobile phones, is believed to provide significant funding to a brutal civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo, although handset manufacturers including Nokia deny any link to illegal coltan smugglers.

Coltan mining is also said to be jeopardising the natural habitat of the Eastern lowland gorilla.

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Pete Swabey

Pete Swabey

Pete was Editor of Information Age and head of technology research for Vitesse Media plc from 2005 to 2013, before moving on to be Senior Editor and then Editorial Director at The Economist Intelligence...

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