Old, used and discarded cell phones are piling up at an alarming rate. The most recent study by environmental research organization Inform estimated that by 2005, as many as 130 million cell phones will be discarded in the U.S. alone. Cell phones, like most electronics, have a variety of toxic materials in them, making them bad candidates to just toss in the trash. That's why scientists, inventors and manufacturers are exploring ways to make cell phones more environmentally safe.
A recent exhibit at the Science Mu-seum in London showcased a collection of these innovations and experiments. One of the more unusual designs stems from collaboration between Motorola, the University of Warwick and PVAXX Research & Development. It's a mobile phone case made of biodegradable polymer that can be planted so an embedded seed can grow into a flower.
NEC hasn't wasted any time in getting its FOMA N701iECO mobile phone with a corn-based bioplastic casing out to the Japanese market. Other innovations are being developed in the form of lasagna-based circuit boards and biodegradable battery designs, but until they hit the market, entrepreneurs can do their part by recycling old cell phones through the proper channels. To find your nearest recycling location, go to www.earth911.org.