An article in Time Magazine last week highlighted the environmental issues associated with e-waste. one of the most interesting things I learned by reading this article is how much your discarded cell phones are actually worth. While US consumers typically receive cell phones at very low or no charge with new and renewed contracts for service, many consumers in other countries work with pre-paid minutes and therefore the cost of a new cell phone is often prohibitive. You may not use your old phone anymore because it isn't fully functional, or perhaps something newer and more exciting came onto the market after a year or so. But there are numerous multimillion/billion dollar businesses out there recycling everything from the precious metals inside to the keypads to the entire phone.
A co-worker asked me earlier today what he could do to eliminate the cell phone graveyard in his desk drawer at home. A quick search online yielded impressive results.
The Wireless Foundation states that there are currently over 30 million unused cell phones in the United States (other organizations put that number as high as 150 million). And the site provides a mailing address for you to send your phone, battery, and charger to help fight against domestic violence.
The Charitable Recycling Program also provides some jaw-dropping statistics: by the year 2005, there will be 500 million stockpiled used cell phones weighing over 250,000 tons. For environmental reasons, you should never throw away a cell phone -- they contain a lot of toxic materials.
Most recycling programs send cell phones to developing countries, but check out CollectiveGood.com for an extensive list of charities that accept cell phone donations. Just pick your worthy cause, download the appropriate form, and mail the form and your phone to the address provided.
Your donation is also tax deductible, so don't forget to ask for a receipt. And collection programs make great community projects for work or school.
TreeHugger has seen lots of ways to recycled your old cell phones, including ways to get some cash for your old phone and an option from TerraPass. With the average lifespan of a cell phone in this country at about 18 months (which adds up to 130 million entering the waste stream every year), there is certainly no shortage of supply for the old talkies; the guys at VoIP-News have done some digging and found 50 ways to recycle them all.
Here are some additional sites I found online:
1. Donate used phones or start a donation program. This site has a zip code search function to find the nearest donation site and will even let you specify a charitable donation program in your search. http://www.recellular.com/recycling/
2. Sell your cell phone here: http://www.cellforcash.com/. A postage-paid box will be send to you.
3. Find out how to donate your phone to charity, sell back for cash or just recycle for environmental reasons: http://www.recyclewirelessphones.com/. This site also includes useful tips for clearing your cell phone memory to protect your private information. Go to Participating Members page to see which cell phone manufacturing and service companies participate.
4. Charitable Recycling: http://www.charitablerecycling.com/CR/home.asp
5. Find your cell phone company, order a pre-paid envelope, send your phone back and get a check: http://www.simplysellular.com/.
6. Pick a charity, recycle your phone, get tax information here: http://www.collectivegood.com/. 7. Cell Phones for Soldiers: http://www.cellphonesforsoldiers.com/.
8. Recycle My Cell Phone: http://recyclemycellphone.org/
9. Recycle your cell phone, digital camera, PDA, or even iPod for charity: http://www.recyclingforcharities.com/.
10. Donate your phone to support battered women: http://www.snbw.org/donate/cellphone.htm.
11. If you have 5 or more phones to recycle, try http://www.eco-cell.org/.
12. Recycle your cell phone and trade it for ‘cool stuff’ on: http://www.ripmobile.com/.
13. Recycle your phone to support shelters: http://www.shelteralliance.net/.
14. Donate, recycle, raise funds for charity: http://www.grcrecycling.com/.
15. Donate your phone to benefit veterans: https://www.veteransadvantage.com/randr/main.html.