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Recycling Your Old Cell Phone

Upgrade Your Cell Phone and Downgrade Your Waste


Could you imagine your life without a cell phone? I don't think that I could.

Nowadays people have email access, instant messaging and GPS navigation on their cell phones, and with this kind of technology literally in the palm of their hands, more people see this device as a necessity rather than a luxury.

In fact, according to an AP-AOL-Pew Research Center mobile lifestyle survey, 29% of Americans said they could not live without their cell phones. And that also means that they can't live without constant upgrades.

So what happens to the old cell phones that get replaced by slicker, higher-tech cell phones? They get thrown away and added to the billions of tons of waste that overflow in our landfills.

The best way to deal with these discards is to recycle them, and cell phone recycling programs make this very easy. Almost as easy as voice-dialing your best friend.

The Popularity of Cell Phones

I know that I'm guilty of having an extra cell phone lying around my apartment because last year I got a phone upgrade from Verizon for a new 2-year contract. My old phone was perfectly fine, but I couldn't pass up on something more advanced and free! (Hey, at least mine was free, whereas millions of Americans insist of paying hundreds of dollars on the latest iPhone or touch-screen cell phone.)

In fact, according to that AP-AOL survey, 65% of cell phone users between the ages of 18-29 send text messages on their cell phones, and 28% of these users also take pictures with their phone! It's like having every cool electronic gadget ever made in one device! You can read more interesting statistics about this survey here.

The downside to upgrading is that it leaves old cell phones in your closet or drawer to accumulate dust. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Americans create almost 65 tons of waste every year just by throwing away cell phones. That amounts to about 125 million cell phones that are probably still in good working condition just tossed like a piece of used chewing gum!

With already limited space in our U.S. landfills, throwing away cell phones just doesn't seem like the best answer to our waste problem.

Cell Phone Recycling to the Rescue!

So what is the solution to society's obsession with cell phone upgrades? The solution is a cell phone recycling program, and there are plenty of them around the country.

Cell phone recycling is pretty easy to grasp. Basically, the cell phone is either refurbished or recycled. Many of the parts can be reused for new cell phones, and the parts that can't be reused are discarded in an environmentally sound way. The batteries are even recharged and reused for new cell phones. And to make it easy for you, you can either drop your old cell phone in a box in a nearby cell phone facility, or you can mail it in.

One of the most well-known cell phone recycling programs is called "Wireless-The New Recyclable," which was created by the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association.

This program works in conjunction with popular cell phone providers such as Verizon, Sprint, AT&T, Motorola and T-Mobile.

These providers collect your used cell phones at their store location, or they collect them from you through free shipping.

Other great cell phone recycling programs are:


Non-profit organization created by the Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation (RBRC) which recycles old cell phones and batteries to keep them out of our nation's solid waste stream.

Cell Phones for Soldiers

Program founded by teenagers Robbie and Brittany Bergquist from Norwell, Massachusetts to turn old cell phones into more than 12 million minutes of prepaid calling cards for U.S. troops stationed overseas.

The Charitable Recycling Program

Recycles old cell phones for non-profit organizations and municipalities, and you can donate proceeds to a charity of your choice.

Collective Good
Partners with charities and other companies to collect used cell phones, which are then refurbished and re-sold to distributors and carriers to be used in developing countries. When you donate your phone you can direct the profits from the sales to a charity of your choice.


Partners with conservation and public organizations to run a strict NO LANDFILL Program, which means all items received, including batteries, accessories and phones with no resale value, will be recycled using the best demonstrated technologies for recycling e-waste.


Grassroots campaign created to educate consumers about the impact of cell phone waste on the environment, and how recycling old cell phones can help to decrease landfill space.

Finally, here are two cool alternatives to traditional cell phone recycling programs:

Houston Zoo

You can send your used cell phone to the Houston Zoo, which works with recycling programs around the world and will donate 100% of the funds raised to support wildlife conservation programs through its Naturally Wild Conservation Program.


Instead of donating your old cell phone you can get money for it from Wirefly. You can go to the site to assess your phone's worth, print out a prepaid shipping label, ship it out and then wait for your money!

It's not a crime to get a new cell phone, but it is a crime to let your old one go to waste. If you are eco-conscious and give your old phone to a recycling program, then you can feel better about the environment and enjoy your advanced gadgetry at the same time!


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Green Options › How To's › Recycling Your Old Cell Phone