Where do raw materials for mobile phones come from? A contribution to sustainable development

Mobile phones are an integral part of our society especially for the everyday life of adolescents. Although high-quality devices continue to be used as used devices, it is obvious that many electronic devices such as smartphones, tablets, and notebooks have become disposable items. The proliferation of these devices and their average useful life of only around 2 years justify the need to encourage learners to be more sustainable with these devices because the mentioned electronic devices are bulging with recyclables. In addition to plastics, ceramics, and glass, they mainly contain precious metals. As the number of these devices increase, their short life span and the low recycling rate means that the demand for these engineering metals continues to increase.

In cooperation with the Universities of Hildesheim and Hamburg, a school lab was developed in which a mobile phone is disassembled and then pulverized to determine what metals are inside. In a second step, the metals are solubilized with aqua regia and detected in various experiments. As part of a simulation game, the students have the opportunity to scientifically understand the resource problem in the production, use, and disposal of the mobile phone and identify, as well as classify social and environmental problems. This forms the basis for being able to critically reflect on one's own consumer behavior.

 

Former article in the journal "The Relation" of the University of Hildesheim (SoSe18 / Page 47)