Researchers in England have come up with a way to recycle discarded mobile telephones: bury them and watch them turn into flowers.
Mobile phones are one of the most quickly discarded items of consumer electronics. Rapid changes in technology and taste means customers constantly upgrade their handsets leaving behind more and more discarded phones. However there is increasing pressure on all manufacturers by policy makers to find ways of recycling discarded goods, and also pressure from some customers who want to feel they are making an environmentally sensitive purchase.
A team at the University of Warwick worked with high-tech materials company PVAXX and Motorola to create a mobile telephone case or cover that when discarded can simply be placed in compost in such a way that just weeks later the case will begin to disintegrate and turn into a flower.
Two researchers have made two key changes to the case or cover of the mobile to achieve this result:
A special formulation of PVAXX's biodegradable polymer range was developed in conjunction with materials researchers at Warwick, that produces a high quality finish but which also biodegrades easily in compost.
The engineers at the University of Warwick have created a small transparent window in the case or cover in which they can embed a seed. The seed is visible to the environmentally aware mobile phone user but will not germinate until the phone cover or case is recycled. The researchers have drawn on the specialized seed expertise of researchers in the University of Warwick's horticultural research arm to identify which types of seeds would perform best in this situation. For the first prototype telephones that was dwarf sunflower seeds.