A biodegradable mobile phone containing a seed which grows when the handset is buried in compost has been developed.
Materials experts at Warwick University have created a casing which starts to disintegrate within weeks of being composted and even flowers later.
They designed a small transparent window in the phone cover to hold the seed and used horticulturalists to identify the best-performing flowers.
Prototypes of the mobile phones have been fitted with dwarf sunflowers.
Dr Kerry Kirwan, who led the team, said mobile telephones were quickly
discarded by consumers because of rapid changes in technology and that
manufacturers were under pressure to find ways of recycling them.
He said: "There are over 100 million mobile phones thrown away across Europe
and we have looked at the plastic covers and facias and looked at ways we can
minimise the environmental impact.
"One of the ways was to get the consumer to plant the phone case into the
ground or plant pot and grow themselves a flower.
"The seed is released and germinates in the pot so you don't have to collect,
segregate and dispose of the phones which has huge amounts of cost and energy
associated with it."
The product was developed in conjunction with hi-tech materials company PVAXX
Research & Development Ltd of Cheltenham and communications technology firm Motorola.