Urban Mining, what is it?

Last updated on 20-05-2021

The city is a mine full of old and unused electronic devices. Urban Mining exploits that mine so that valuable raw materials from old devices can be reused. Read all about it here.

Urban Mining, what is it?

We're completely used to it by now; everything is becoming digital and you already do many things online using your smartphone or PC. Booking a trip, buying a cinema ticket, buying a new dress or sweater, chatting and video streaming with friends, gaming, etc.

In order to be able to do all this smoothly, you always need to download the latest apps on your device and preferably your device is the latest top model that can do just that little bit more than its predecessor. So it's not surprising that we all buy a new device every couple of years.

But what happens to our old smartphone when we buy our latest new and trendy model? Unfortunately, most of us keep it in a drawer.

Electronic waste is therefore the fastest growing type of waste today. Only about 5% of mobile phones are recycled whereas more than 90% of their components are recyclable. Currently, more than 3 million old mobile phones are gathering dust in Belgian drawers. However, they contain valuable and rare raw materials that could be reused.

So recycling is the message here because it's a waste to keep or throw unused things away while they still have value. By extracting the raw materials from our old devices, we don't have to extract them from limited natural resources, and we’re doing our planet and ourselves a great favor with that.

Urban Mining, a boost for our planet and for ourselves

Urban Mining obtains raw materials, which are necessary for the production of our products, not from the ground or nature but from the "city" (Urban). A mine full of discarded, old but valuable electronic devices.

Our smartphones contain raw materials such as gold, silver, copper and cobalt. Instead of extracting them over and over again from nature and exhausting natural resources, we can recover them very efficiently from our electronic waste. From 8.5 tons of raw ore you can extract up to 42 grams of gold, from 8.5 tons of electronic waste up to 2 kilograms!

Moreover, extracting these materials from electronic waste is much more environmentally friendly. Looking at the figures we see that extracting raw materials from 100,000 mobile phones produces 316 tons less CO₂ and 12,750 tons less toxic waste and requires 25.4 million liters less water than producing these materials through traditional mining. Not to mention aspects such as deforestation or soil and water pollution.

Besides the economic and ecological aspect, there's also a very important human aspect. Artisanal mining is often at the root of humanitarian crises and issues such as exploitation, corruption and war are unfortunately still a daily occurrence.

In short, with Urban Mining we are doing nature and ourselves a great favor, and recycling our electronic waste is an essential element in a circular economy.

Don't Miss the Call: answer the call of our planet

As a telecom company, we at Proximus are well aware that we make a major contribution to the sale of mobile phones. With our Urban Mining campaign "Don't Miss the Call" we want to take responsibility and teach Belgians a good habit, namely to recycle their old mobile phones.

The collected mobile phones will either be recycled for the raw materials they contain or reused. With this campaign, we are also raising money for EIGHT, a Belgian organization working against poverty in African villages.

Concretely, we challenge Belgians to bring in 150,000 old mobile phones for recycling to any one of our shops by the end of this year. Anyone returning their old mobile phone to a Proximus Shop will receive a voucher worth at least €10. The value of the voucher can also be donated in full to EIGHT.

Answer our planet's call here!


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