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Problem plastics Plastic circuit boards are notoriously wasteful to produce. Made from a mixture of oil-based plastics and glass fibre, they're hard to recycle and last a long time in landfill. But engineer Richard Wool has invented an environmentally friendly alternative.
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Problem plasticsPlastic circuit boards are notoriously wasteful to produce. Made from a mixture of oil-based plastics and glass fibre, they're hard to recycle and last a long time in landfill. But engineer Richard Wool has invented an environmentally friendly alternative.
Richard's team of materials scientists have created a circuit board made from soya-bean oils and chicken feathers - totally natural and renewable materials that stop us having to rely on plastics from oil.
Fuel cells can charge existing mobile batteries but in future they might replace batteries altogether.
The new process can stop valuable and toxic metals from hitting landfill
Soon we might be able to compost our mobile batteries.Recycle Now
Future phones could be powered by lightweight flexible batteries.
Stuck with piles of wired waste? Not surprising - in your lifetime, you'll get through more than 3 tonnes of electrical products. But as we pull the plug on our gadgets, we get loaded up with electronic duds that we're now struggling to deal with.At the moment, more than half of us chuck out our e-junk with the kitchen scraps, sending around 900,000 tonnes of electronic waste to landfill every year. That's what new laws from the European Union (EU) are set to tackle.
Without a battery, your phone's a hunk of junk.istockphoto.com/Terje Borud
Mobiles quickly look dated
We need to find ways to tackle our digital dumping.Greenpeace/Natalie Behring
Every hour 1712 mobile phones are upgraded in the UK alone.
'We've done lots of research into why people choose to replace things before they break. There are three main reasons: because the functions aren't up to date, because it's cheaper to get a new one, or because we just don't like them any more,' he explains.
A new lifeLoads of shops have phone take-back schemes or recycling bins, but when you hand in your phone for recycling, it's actually much more likely to be used again than to be melted down into metals.Dominic Wing from Fonebak explains:'Most of the phones we collect are between 12 and 18 months old and we know they could work for another six or seven years, so it's much greener to reuse them than melt them down straight away.'
This could be the start of a long journey. Fonebak
Most of the phones fly away to developing countries, where land lines are sparse and mobile communication is booming. The problem is that pricey handsets are holding up the chat.Even the cheapest new sets are still quite expensive, so reselling old handsets is a great way to help people keep in touch without busting the budget.
Phones can boost businesses like fishing.
'In our study in Africa, we found that phones can really improve the local economy. For example, fishermen in Tanzania can now phone from their boat to find out which market will give them the best price for their fish. And people can buy phones and sell the talk time on to others.’