Mobile Future

Recycling Made Easy

Earth Day is April 22 and during the month of April, Mobile Future will share information on how wireless users can be kinder to the environment by disposing of their wireless devices in a responsible way.

In 2005, the EPA estimated that there was about 2.2 million tons of e-waste — e-waste includes all consumer electronics from computer terminals to cell phones and more. That statistic was one of the first things I heard the other morning on NPR and what was more disturbing is that only 15 percent to 20 percent of the electronic devices that are disposed of each year are recycled.

The good news is that the wireless industry makes it really easy for people to recycle their old phones, since the average consumer replaces their phone about every 18 to 24 months. It is encouraging that the wireless industry has stepped up and volunteered to make recycling easy.

All the major wireless providers – Sprint, AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless and Alltel accept donations of cell phones in their stores regardless of the cell phones’ manufacturer or carrier. All you have to do is let the employees know that you would like to recycle your phone, and they will take care of the rest. Many electronics stores, such as Best Buy, Office Depot and Staples, also have collection bins where people can drop off their cell phones.

Oftentimes, carriers will donate perfectly useable phones to good causes or they will use the money they raise by recycling the pieces to support charities. One I particularly like is Verizon’s Wireless HopeLine where the funds raised are used to purchase wireless phones which are distributed (along with donated air time) to victims of domestic violence.

Now the Post Office is testing a pilot electronics recycling program.

Free postage-paid envelopes are provided to individuals to mail in everything from inkjet cartridges to MP3 players to cell phones. Currently 1,500 post offices are participating in 10 areas across the country, including Chicago, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. If the program is successful, they will expand it in the fall.

This is just the tip of the iceberg – there are many other ways to responsibly dispose of your old phones. Check back with Mobile Future for other resources we will highlight.

And don’t forget, before you recycle your phone, remember to terminate your service, clear the phone’s memory of contacts and other stored information and remove your phone’s SIM card.