Green Business Bureau Blog
Recycle Your Cell Phone for the Health of the Planet
While our modern world offers a variety of ways for us to be more and more environmentally friendly, much of our waste has actually become increasingly dangerous to ourselves, our planet and the other creatures that live here – this includes cell phones. Cell phones are full of various toxic metals that, if not disposed of properly, can pollute our environment and add bulk to our landfills. This can result in water contamination, soil contamination, and a threat to animals, plants and even human health. However, when cell phones and other electronics are recycled in a responsible way these metals can be used again, gaining new life in future electronics and minimizing the need for additional mining for new materials, another process that is harmful to our mother Earth. The short of it all is that recycling your cellular phone is one easy, inexpensive (usually free), thing that you can do to make our world healthier for all of us. Let’s look at how you can recycle your phone easily and safely.
The Basics of Where to Go If you just picked up a shiny new cellular phone or smart phone you may find yourself wondering what to do with that old one. If you are like most people you either throw it in the trash or drop it in a junk drawer, adding to the already impressive stack of outdated electronics you have been hoarding. You might think it is a bit more responsible to put it out near your trash or do a curb alert on Craig’s List, thinking that some crafty entrepreneur will pick it up to reuse or recycle, whether for the precious metals or some type of art form. The truth is that while this takes the electronics out of your line of vision, you have no idea if that new owner is dealing with them responsibly. Many amateur recyclers use unhealthy methods of recycling, such as burning the rubber coating off of copper wires to recycle the copper. This is highly dangerous and damaging to our environment and atmosphere. The best way to handle your old cell phone is to give it to a legitimate recycler. These organizations take both working and non working cell phones, sometimes reusing them as-is, but more often breaking them down, recycling the components responsibly, and disposing of what cannot be recycled properly.
Every year tens of millions of people part ways with an old cell phone, as well as the charger and batteries. When you do this responsibly you find a cell phone recycler who can remove and make use of the copper, other metals, and even the plastics in your phone. Some of these recyclers use the money made to help out various charities; this is a double bonus – you save the environment and make a donation all at one time. There are a variety of places that you can recycle a cell phone.
Many cell phone manufactures offer free or inexpensive recycling of their own equipment; you can check the website of your phone’s manufacturer to see what they offer. Sometimes large home centers, such as Lowe’s or Home Depot, will accept cell phones for recycling, along with the chargers and batteries. Other places such as Radio Shack and Batteries Plus will do the same. Or, you can take it one step further and donate for charity.
Take the time to look for a charity in your area that accepts old phones as a donation. These charities have an arraignment with a recycling facility; they provide them phones then the recycling facility gives a small donation for each phone received. One great charity that does this is called Cell Phones for Soldiers. This group has raised more than $7 million by recycling phones and uses that money to buy calling cards for deployed soldiers to call home. Another is the Big Cat Rescue, located in Tampa, FL. They accept ink cartridges, laser toners and cell phones – you can even ship them through the mail in a postage paid envelope for free. Proceeds of the recycling go to help rescue large cats and care for them in a life-long sanctuary. Check out the websites of these two organizations or do a search for similar programs in your area.
Some Safety Tips before You Recycle Before you recycle your phone be certain that it is inactive and that you cancel your old cell provider contract, if necessary. Remove the SIM card. You will also want to clean all personal information from your phone, just to be safe. You can contact the phone manufacturer or your cellular provider for details. Usually, you can manually delete the phone book, contact lists, call list, voicemails, sent and received messages and texts, web search history, and so forth.