You love your new iPhone or Blackberry, but what did you do with your old cell phone? Did you throw it away or recycle it? In the U.S., 165 million new cell phones are sold every year and on average people get a new cell phone about every 18 months, which means that every year millions of cell phones are being disposed of and only about 10 to 15% of them are being recycled.
Recycling one million cell phones roughly equates to enough energy savings to power more than 185 U.S. households with electricity for a year. In addition to the energy savings, recycling your cell phones is much better for the environment.
Impact on the environment:
Cell phones contain many toxic materials and metals that can pollute the environment and cause harm to people and wildlife. When trashed, these toxins can leak into water supplies and if they are incinerated they affect air quality. Additionally, cell phone coatings and batteries are often made up of lead, which if exposed to sunlight or high temperatures could explode.
How phones are recycled and repurposed:
Recycled cell phones are safely and carefully taken apart, the toxic materials are properly disposed of and the reusable materials are salvaged and are used to manufacture new phones and products. Salvaging and repurposing the precious metals, copper and plastics contained in cell phones means saving the time, energy and resources, which would be required to mine and manufacture new materials. Gold is used in the circuit boards of all cell phones and mining for one ounce of clean gold produces 79 tons of toxic waste, the equivalent of 35 cars.
How and where to recycle:
You can recycle your cell phones, batteries and chargers in a variety of ways. Many office supply companies, electronic stores and cell phone carriers have recycling programs in place where you can drop of your old phones and accessories. You can go to call2recycle.org and type in your zip code to find local retailers that offer recycling programs. Also, many charitable organizations collect phones like Cell Phones for Soldiers, which strives to keep military families connected by providing free communication tools for people serving overseas in the U.S. military.
Help out someone in need and lessen the impact on the environment by recycling your old cell phones, batteries and chargers. For more recycling tips check out our blog post on “How to start a recycling program at your office.”
Thanks to Flickr user davepatten.