Cell phones, computers and other IT goods, as well as components like circuit boards, batteries and cathode-ray TV glass, face a mixed fate. Many are dumped, some are recycled for precious metals, and some are shipped overseas.
So-called “urban mining” recycling plants can turn trash into treasure. The government estimates the phones yielded 22 kilograms of gold, 79 kilograms of silver, two kilograms of palladium and over five tons of copper.
But while appliances such as TVs and air conditioners are subject to disposal laws, with recycling rates generally high, so-called e-waste -- including cell phones, computers and other electronic waste -- is another story.
In the year to April 2005, over 7 million PCs were discarded, with some 37 percent disposed or recycled, 37 percent reused within Japan, and 26 percent exported, according to Japan’s National Institute for Environmental