Cellphone owners seek disposal options

2021-03-30 12:08:24

People visit a store operated by cellphone recycler Aihuishou in Shanghai in October. REN YUMING/FOR CHINA DAILY A majority of people support the establishment of more safe platforms for recycling and reusing cellphones, as a growing number-especially the young-own more than one device, a recent survey found. China Youth Daily polled 2,011 people recently and found more than 74 percent would like to see safe and reliable cellphone recycling platforms set up-though 78.5 percent were worried about the leakage of personal information-and 47 percent felt the prices offered online by recyclers were too low. In addition, 37.5 percent said they didn't know where recycled phones had gone and feared that they could harm the environment. Statistics from the China Household Electric Appliance Research Institute last year showed that in 2019 alone, about 289 million cellphones were discarded as useless in China, amounting to about 57,800 metric tons of electronics. But how to deal with outdated, unused cellphones has been a concern for many people-especially the young who have bought mobile phones more frequently in pursuit of the latest versions with new functions and better user experiences. The China Youth Daily survey found that about 70 percent of respondents have at least two cellphones that are left unused. Sixty percent said they treat the unused ones as backups and 45 percent gave unused phones to their parents or other elderly family members. Only 29 percent chose to sell or recycle mobile phones through online secondhand goods or cellphone recycling shops, according to the survey, with 26 percent leaving the unused phones at home and gradually forgetting about them. Liu Jian, an employee of a State-owned company in Beijing, has sold at least three unused phones to online recycling stores. "In spite of the low prices the stores offered, which usually run from tens to hundreds of yuan, I'm glad that I don't have to see my old, unused phones pile up at home," he said. After filling out an online form with information like the type, date of purchase and current status of the cellphone, Liu said an appraisal price is offered by online platforms. If the seller accepts the price, they can choose to send the phone to the store by mail or ask for at-home collection, he said. "I prefer door-to-door service, as I can ask the staff member to check if I have completely deleted all my personal information and data," Liu said. "That made me feel a little bit safer." Guo Chen, a 29-year-old resident of Cangzhou, Hebei province, said he preferred to give his unused phones to family members. "My parents, grandfather, uncles, aunts and cousins... all are using my old cellphones," he said, adding that he buys a new cellphone every one or two years. In Guo's eyes, selling or recycling the phones is not sensible as the whereabouts of the phones are unknown after being sold or recycled. "How will the phones be handled afterward? Will they become part of 'new phones' or be dumped into the environment? I don't know. So I'd rather keep them in my home," he said. "I might try recycling them if more safe recycling platforms and a tracking system are established."