Friday, February 5, 2010

Cell Phone Recycling


by Michelle Sawyer
cell phone recycling

Discarded cell phones account for nearly 65,000 tons of toxic waste each year.Cell phone recycling is critical because each cell phone can pollute up to 132,000 liters of water.

More than 500 million unwanted cell phones are either awaiting disposal in the home, or seeping hazardous lead, mercury, cadmium, brominated flame retardants, and arsenic into the environment. And with new features available every year, a cell phone's average life is now less than 18 months, adding more than 125 million cell phones (and their batteries) to our landfills each year — or 2 million toxic mobile phones dumped each week. Because the United States has yet to establish federal regulations requiring mobile phone recycling, donating or recycling cell phones is at less than 1 percent.

The good news is that mobile phone manufacturers have recognized the need for cell phone recycling, stepping up their efforts to stop this enormous threat to the environment. All five national mobile phone carriers have instigated a mobile phone recycling take-back plan, accepting unwanted cell phones at any of their retail locations nationwide.

Even without a wireless service plan, donated cell phones are reusable, because any working mobile phone can dial a 911 call center (an FCC requirement). As a result, recycled cell phones can be used as emergency lifelines for:

  • senior centers
  • senior citizens living alone, who are especially vulnerable to accidents
  • senior citizens with disabilities and limited incomes, who are especially vulnerable to elder abuse (physical abuse, assault, exploitation, or neglect.)

Recycled cell phones are also an important emergency link for women's shelters. Donated cell phones could save a life by enabling victims of domestic violence with instant access to emergency services.

Before donating your mobile phone, erase any stored information, including your contact list, text messages, and listings of incoming/outgoing numbers. Most cell phones use a "master reset" to delete information quickly and easily. Also, verify that your account has been cancelled with your service provider.

Cell Phone Recycling

Cell phones that are too old to be refurbished or reused should go to a recycling center to keep poisonous mercury, lead and other dangerous toxins from harming the environment. Batteries, plastics, and other components will be disposed of according to EPA guidelines.

Stores such as Radio Shack, Best Buy, Office Depot and Staples offer mobile phone recycling centers, where you can simply toss your unwanted mobile phone into their in-store "recycling bin."

Exchanging your old cell phone when you upgrade is the easiest way to recycle, but if you have a mobile phone or two in a drawer at home, Call 2 Recycle can give you the location of your nearest cell phone recycling center.

Cell Phone Donation

Using a padded envelope, you can mail your unwanted cell phone to The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, which collects and distributes working cell phones to victims of domestic violence so that they may call 911 for help in emergencies.

Phones For Life gives seniors a lifeline by providing them with a 911-capable working mobile phone, enabling them to call for emergency help should they suffer an accident or emergency. Their drop-off locations are in a number of states, or you can donate your mobile phone by mail.

Donate A Phone and Call to Collect have partnered to accept cell phones at convenient locations throughout your state; refurbishing and distributing the cell phones to domestic violence shelters in need.

More information about cell phone recycling and donation is available from The Recycling Alliance, Charitable Recycling, Collective Good and Wireless Recycling.


  1. it is good to know that discarded cell phones account for nearly 65,000 tons of toxic wast each year and each mobile can pollute upto 132,000 liters of water.

    We can stop that by recycling our unused mobile phones.

  2. The small blog is filled with good valuable information.

    I Agree with "mobile phone recycling"