Cell Phone Recycling: Donate Your Old Mobile Phone
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 140 million cell phones (and their batteries) to our landfills each year — or 2.5 million toxic mobile phones dumped each week. Because the United States has yet to establish federal regulations requiring mobile phone recycling, only about 10 percent of cell phones are currently being donated or recycled.
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. National mobile phone carriers have instigated mobile phone recycling take-back plans, accepting unwanted cell phones at any of their retail locations nationwide. (See individual carriers such as AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless for more information.)
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:
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.
I Did This!
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. (If you’d like help for your specific model, see ReCellular’s Free Data Eraser.) Remove your phone’s SIM card (sometimes called a mini hard disk or removable memory card), if it has one. Phones that operate on GSM (Global System for Mobile Communication) networks use SIM cards. If you are not sure if your phone uses a SIM card or if you need assistance removing it, contact your wireless provider. Lastly, verify that your account has been cancelled by 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, Home Depot, Lowes, 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
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence works with ReCellular to collect and refurbish old cell phones. See the organization’s site for free mailing labels and information on how to organize a cell phone collection drive. HopeLine from Verizon also collects phones for women’s shelters.
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.
Help Operation Gratitude raise money to send care packages to U.S. soldiers. The organization receives at least $30 for every cell phone collected. Sending in an old phone is easy – just package it up and attach a free mailing label. Another organization that collects unwanted phones to help our military men and women is Cell Phones for Soldiers.
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