According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “Recycling all of the 100 million cell phones ready for end of life management in the U.S. would save enough energy to power more than 194,000 households with electricity for one year.”
We’re so sure that at least 1 of those 100 million is at your house! So let’s get busy recycling, shall we?
First let’s talk about why recycling that cell phone is such a good deed. In addition to keeping unnecessary “stuff” out of the landfill, cell phones are made up of valuable resources (copper, plastics and precious metals) that require energy to extract and manufacture. Conserving natural resources is an important aspect of cell phone recycling. Copper is valuable and expensive. Why? Because it is difficult to acquire, that’s why! So re-using what we’ve already paid to extract, and what the Earth has so graciously given us, is a must!
Now that we all agree to faithfully recycle those cell phones we’ve traded in for cuter, sleeker models, we bet you’re wondering where to recycle those phones. Thanks to the EPA, we’ve got a great starting list for you. Check out the retailers and service providers who’ve partnered with the EPA as their Plug-In to eCycling Partners: AT&T, Sprint, Best Buy, Staples, Office Depot, T-Mobile, Sony Ericsson, and LG Electronics.
Also be aware of opportunities in your community – for example our local YMCA sometimes has cell phone drives. One of our favorite cell phone recycling programs is one run by ECO-CELL, which runs a strict no landfill program. Approximately 80% of the phones collected will be refurbished and reused by first-time users abroad or by selected local organizations, such as hospital patients for emergency 911 calls. All unusable cell phones and accessories are recycled under strict EPA guidelines by certified recyclers.
Sending your unused cell phone to ECO-CELL allows you to donate the benefits to the conservation program of your choice. ECO-CELL, National Geographic and American zoos such as the Bronx and San Diego Zoos are highlighting the affects that increased cell phone use has had on Gorillas of the Congo. Coltan, a mineral extracted from the forests of Congo in Central Africa, is used in cell phones. These forests are home to the endangered lowland gorillas. In recent years the mining in this region has gotten out of control, accounting for a 70% loss of habitat for the gorialls. Read more at National Geographic.