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Your cell phone is a little gold — and silver — mine

Apr 12,2010
A nationwide campaign to collect and recycle one million used cell phones will be launched today to harvest them for metals including gold and silver, the Environment Ministry said yesterday.

“Starting April 12 [today], the campaign to collect used cell phones will last until June 30,” the ministry said.

“Not only the central and local governments but also mobile communication companies as well as elementary, middle schools and high schools across the country will participate. Universities nationwide are going to do the same.”

The cell phone penetration rate in Korea was 94 percent as of end of 2008, according to the ministry, including business and personal lines. As cell phones are produced with new features, users frequently replace their phones, and the ministry expects that the number of used phones will increase as smartphones catch on with the public.

Even though useful metals, including gold and silver, are found in used cell phones, the number of phones recycled in 2007 reached only 130,000, according to the ministry. The figures in 2008 and 2009 were 350,000 and 370,000, respectively.

The ministry said 1,000 used cell phones will provide 2.26 million won ($2,022) worth of metals.

People can bring their used cell phones to many locations, including some 9,500 elementary and middle schools nationwide, 600 mobile phone stores, 22 KTX stations and 10 local governments.

Those who recycle phones will be given incentives such as books related to the environment and 20 percent discount fare coupons for the KTX.

Schools, individuals or institutions who recycle the most will be given a commendation by the Environment Ministry.


By Kang Chan-su [smartpower@joongang.co.kr]



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