MSNBC is reporting today that the Environmental Protection Agency, wireless phone carriers, and CTIA (the wireless trade industry association) are all working together to help increase awareness of the need to recycle old cell phones in honor of Earth Day this April 22nd. According to the EPA, only about 10% of 140 million cell phones were recycled in 2007. Phones that aren’t recycled are often stored away or put in the trash where they end up in landfills, where toxic elements from them contaminate the environment. Eighty percent of a phone’s material can be recycled.
- AT&T and T-Mobile have vowed to standardize chargers by 2012 for most cell phones. Thrown-away chargers generate more than 51,000 tons of waste a year.
- AT&T provides free shipping labels for the Cell Phones for Soldiers program, which recycles phones and uses the proceeds to buy phone cards for troops stationed overseas.
- Sprint offers customers a buy-back program and offers up to a $50 credit.
- T-Mobile’s “Huddle Up” program uses funds from recycled phones and gives grants to organizations that work with children.
- Verizon Wireless’ HopeLine recycled phone program, that began in 2001, takes usable cells and gives them to domestic violence awareness and prevention organizations around the country.
Before you use any of these programs for recycling, be sure to erase all information from the phone.