If you care about the environment at all, disposing of electronics is seldom a simple task. You can't just throw them in the trash bin, and recycling them often costs a chunk of cash -- if you can even find a place to do it. If you're lucky, there's an electronics store near you with promotional free-recycling days, or, if the piece of electronics in question is a cell phone, you can find a nearby donation drop-off for a charity.
Why the hassle? Electronics components, and cell phones especially, are made of dangerous substances. A mobile phone is made of hundreds of different substances, some of which are toxic, including PVC, phthalates, zinc, lead, brominated flame retardants and arsenic [source: Reedy]. When a cell phone ends up in a landfill, it sits there, and sits there, sometimes for hundreds of years, giving those toxic substances lots of time to leach into the ground and water supply.
Thus the focus on recycling or donating your mobile phone -- beyond conserving manufacturing resources, it's crucial keep it out of a landfill. But more than 80 percent of the 150 million phones discarded each year still end up in the trash [source: Wenzel].
In response to heavy criticism, the mobile-phone industry has begun to focus heavily on greening up its product. In 2006, Nokia introduced a whole line of phones and accessories free of PVC, and in 2008, the company marketed the first phone with no toxic flame retardants [source: Reedy]. LG removed harmful beryllium from its phones and is researching both environmentally friendlier paints and biodegradable plastics for its products [source: Reedy]. It's not an easy process, since eco-friendly plastics are still a new industry and are not always as sturdy as the traditional stuff [source: Reedy].
All of the top handset makers are getting in on the "green phone" trend to varying degrees. In this article, we'll look at five of the best examples of eco-friendlier phones and find out what makes them greener than their traditional counterparts.
At No. 5, we've got a phone from Sony with a reduced carbon footprint.