jump to navigation

Cell phones, coltan and gorillas February 6, 2008

Posted by Andreas in Environment, Sustainable Living.

I’m not a big cell phone user, but I’ve worked my way through several over the last few years. I can’t be bothered about having the latest, smallest and smartest model on the market, but most of them don’t seem to last more than a year or two. Clearly a case of built-in obsolescence.

Just chucking away my old cell phones has always been an issue for me (which is probably why most of them end up in the bottom of some drawer), especially after reading a bit about coltan, a mineral that is an important component in cell phones. Eighty per cent of the world’s coltan (short for columbite-tantalite) comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo, where it has financed various groups fighting in regional civil wars and led to increasing deforestation in the Kahuzi Biega National Park, resulting in the decimation of the local gorilla population. “Within the Dem. Rep. of Congo as a whole, the U.N. Environment Program has reported that the number of eastern lowland gorillas in eight Dem. Rep. of Congo national parks has declined by 90% over the past 5 years, and only 3,000 now remain.”

Here’s an interesting video clip from the US, where cell phone recycling seems to be an option at least in some places:

Anyone have any good ideas about where to take old cell phones in South Africa?



1. ekokym - February 28, 2008
2. Blog admin - November 4, 2008

I am a humanitarian worker writing from Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo. Unfortunately, what you say about Coltan in your post is true. The silence of international media about this issue is enormous.
Thanks a lot for talking about this in your blog.
All the best


3. dee11212 - March 16, 2011

Why don’t we give our old tech crap to people in other countries BEFORE we throw it away??

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: