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Cell Phone Recycling – Reasons Why We Absolutely Must

12 Jun Cell Phone Recycling – Reasons Why We Absolutely Must

Recycle cell phones? Absolutely!

Did you know that you can actually recycle your old or used cell phones? If you’re like most people, you probably have an old cell phone or two hidden in a drawer somewhere. In a few months or years, you’ll rediscover these hidden phones and having no further use to you, these old units will most likely end up in your garbage bin and thence, in your city’s landfill.

But there’s a better, more environmentally-responsible, even more profitable way to dispose of your old cell phones. Cell phone recycling is the answer.

There may be around 700 million used or old cell phones in America today, with approximately 125 million discarded cell phones added every year. According to a study done by a market intelligence firm iSuppli Corporation in 2007, 36.8 percent stored their cell phones in their drawers, 10.2 percent threw their cell phones away or declared these as lost or stolen, and only 9.4 percent recycled their used or old cell phones. In actual numbers, that’s 10 million cell phones rotting away in our country’s landfills and 37 million cell phones gathering dust in the drawers of America – and that’s from 2007 alone!

Why should you recycle your cell phones?

Like other electronic wastes, cell phones in their circuit boards and batteries, contain such harmful heavy metals like lead, mercury, and cadmium. Dangerous chemicals like brominated flame retardants (BFRs) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) are also found in the plastic casing of most cell phones. According to Dr. Anne Marie Helmenstine, author and leading authority in biomedical sciences, lead has been found to cause development problems in children and diminishes brain functions even in adults. Cadmium exposure can lead to “liver and irreversible kidney problems (often fatal), respiratory and bone density problems. Compounds containing cadmium are also carcinogenic.”

Most of our landfills today are scientifically designed to contain chemicals leaking from the solid waste, but will you gamble the health of your children and your’s on the chance that cell phones and other electronic wastes we so carelessly throw to our landfills will not leach chemicals into our underground water systems? The likelihood of these dangerous and deadly chemicals seeping into our water systems is just too high. By dumping cell phones and other electronic wastes in our landfills, we are practically poisoning ourselves.

Is there money in cell phone recycling?

Yes. As a matter of fact, cell phone recycling can be quite lucrative. You can make money by selling your used or old cell phones to recycling and refurbishing companies like Pacebutler Corporation in Edmond, OK who will pay as much as $50 for each cell phone you turn in and will even pay for the shipping of packages containing at least 4 cell phones. The refurbishing company then turns around, and refurbishes these cell phones to be marketed to wholesale buyers abroad, bringing communication capability to people from developing countries in South America and other areas.

On a much larger scale, recycling companies like Umicore in Belgium, who process unserviceable cell phones and e-waste, are able to extract such precious metals and other materials from cell phones like gold, silver, platinum, copper, coltan, plastic and glass, etc. from these. Did you know that there’s more gold found in one metric ton of cell phone and other electronic waste than 17 tons of gold ore excavated and refined through the traditional mining process? The good news is, after the entire recycling process is over, less than half of 1% of the entire electronic waste processed, is deemed unfit to be returned to the production cycle and is then just burned for energy generation.

The precious metals present in each cell phone are basically just trace amounts, so it’s impractical and patently dangerous (because of the industrial chemicals necessary) for you to try and extract these minerals from your cell phone at home. It may seem like a joke, but it was in the news last month – a man who fancied himself as an “urban miner” got poisoned by the industrial chemicals he was using, while “mining” cell phones. The giant recycling firms make money by processing tons and tons of cell phones and other electronic waste.

How do you recycle cell phones?

Give your old or used cell phones to friends or family. Perhaps the most practical and easiest way to recycle cell phones is by extending the life cycle of old phones by giving these away to a friend or a family member. Most of the cell phones we hide or throw away in exchange for a newer model or after we switched to a different provider are still perfectly usable. You can give it to a friend or a younger sister, and you’re sure that cell phone will have a year or two more of use before getting permanently retired. But then again, if you go by this route, you’re merely extending the life cycle of your old phones. You can put in a word for the environment by asking the person you’re giving your phone to, to recycle it properly when the time comes.

Recycle cell phones through the manufacturer or service provider. Did you know that you can actually return your old cell phones to the manufacturer? The leading US manufacturers and service providers like AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint all have cell phone take-back programs, complete with free shipping and/or discounts in subsequent purchases. These companies will ensure that the cell phones are recycled or refurbished in a responsible and environmentally-sound process. It’s a win-win solution, too. The companies win by having access to a steady stream of recycled materials for manufacturing of new items. You win by making sure the your old phones are recycled responsibly and by getting the discounts from your purchases.

Donate your cell phones to your favorite charity. Many charitable and non-profit organizations today are able to raise funds for their respective charities and projects by collecting used and old cell phones, and then selling them to recyclers and refurbishers. If you want to start such a project in your own city or neighborhood, you can network with other non-profit organizations and even ask for material support from the recycling companies. People, even kids, are doing it. If you live near a zoo, chances are you’ve seen cell phone collection boxes near the zoo entrance. The fact is, by raising funds for a worthy cause by collecting and reselling old cell phones, you are putting to good use something that would have been useless, even harmful if disposed improperly.

Recycle cell phones through recycling and refurbishing companies. Selling your old or used cell phones to companies like Pacebutler Corporation is a fast and convenient option. You can actually process everything online in a few minutes. All you need to do is access the company’s website, check for the actual buying prices of your cell phones’ model, and request for a shipping label. Once you have the pre-paid labels, you can box and send your old cell phones to the company. The turn-around time is very fast for these online transactions, too. Generally, the company sends you your check within 4 business days after receiving your cell phones.

To summarize, we have outlined here the paramount importance of recycling your old or used cell phones, in the light of potential impact on the environment and people’s health. There is still so much room for growth in our cell phone recycling efforts, as we’ve seen in the numbers above. But things are looking up, as more and more people become aware of the importance and the absolute necessity to recycle cell phones, we should be able to move forward in increasing the cell phone recycling rate nationwide.

Recycle your cell phones today. As the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says, “it’s an easy call to make.”

By Michael Arms

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