Life cycle cost analysis for recycling high-tech minerals from waste mobile phones in China

Pengwei He, Haibo Feng, Guangji Hu, Kasun Hewage, Gopal Achari, Chang Wang*, Rehan Sadiq

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)


High-tech minerals (HTMs) used for manufacturing mobile phones are indispensable raw materials for emerging Chinese national strategic industries. China is the world's largest mobile phone market, and increasing amounts of HTMs are found in the country's excessive mobile phone waste. Thus, it is important to investigate the life cycle cost (LCC) of recycling HTMs from waste mobile phones. In this study, material flow analysis (MFA) and LCC assessment were conducted to analyze the recycling of waste mobile phones and the contained HTMs. The LCCs of recycling two types of mobile phones, i.e., feature phones and smartphones, were investigated. The results show that the LCCs of recycling one waste feature phone and one waste smartphone are approximately US$ 2.34 and US$ 6.60, respectively. The LCCs of extracting HTMs from one waste feature phone are US$ 6.035 for 1 g of cobalt and US$ 0.014 for 1 g of palladium, while the LCCs of extracting 1 g of cobalt, palladium, antimony, beryllium, neodymium, praseodymium and platinum from one waste smartphone are US$ 10.106, US$ 0.024, US$ 0.135, US$ 0.005, US$ 0.08, US$ 0.016 and US$ 0.006, respectively. Based on the LCC results, constructive suggestions and policy implications are provided for future mobile phone management in China.

Original languageEnglish
Article number119498
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Early online date4 Dec 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2020
Externally publishedYes


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