Raising the Bar
Sweden's Mobile Compost initiative recycles mobile phones and cashes in on the precious metals they contain. According to this Deutsch Welle article, “One ton of cell phones contains a kilogram (2.2 pounds) of silver and some 300 grams of gold,” and in Sweden alone it is estimated that there are 15 million old cell phones tucked away in drawers.
"It's a real gold mine," said Jan-Olof Eriksson of the Swedish recycling company El-Kretsen. "Mobile phones are technologically complicated, with a lot of precious metals inside them. Those resources could replace the ones that are taken out of the ground."
In fact, the Swedish mining operation Boliden now produces 40 percent of its gold from recycled electronics. The initiative is also good for the environment since a correctly recycled cell phone won't release toxic agents into the ground. To date, some 250,000 phones have been collected in the program.