Who knew... It's the first annual National Cell Phone Recycling Week, sponsored and promoted (ahem, via the whisper method?!) by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Note that the name is misleading: you can recycle your old phones at any time throughout the year though I think concentrated efforts at education and promotions are occurring this week.
I learned of the EPA's effort through a green social network Ecycle: http://ecycle.ning.com/, centered around educating and discussing issues related to the process of recycling the components of discarded electronic equipment like computers, laptops, monitors, televisions.
EPA’s "Plug-In To eCycling" program has partnered with AT&T, Best Buy, LG Electronics, Motorola, Nokia, Office Depot, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, Sprint, Staples, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless to launch a national campaign encouraging Americans to recycle or donate their unwanted cell phones.
The “Recycle Your Cell Phone. It’s An Easy Call” campaign aims to increase the public’s awareness of cell phone recycling and donation opportunities, with the ultimate goal of increasing the nation’s cell phone recycling rate from the current (pathetic) level: only 10% of unwanted cell phones are recycled or donated each year. There are an estimated 100 million cell phones that are no longer used in the U.S. If these are recycled, there would be enough energy saved to power more than 18,500 U.S. household for ONE YEAR.
Recycling: an Easy Choice - There are thousands of opportunities to recycle cell phones and accessories. Most cell phone retailers, manufacturers, and service providers have ongoing collection programs where phones can be dropped off or mailed in regardless of the age or brand, usually for free. Some charitable organizations and state or municipal solid waste programs also offer cell phone recycling; and a great choice is to donate old cell phones to women's and homeless shelters where they become "emergency only" devices.
Drop It Off or Mail it In: It's pretty easy to find one of the retailers near you that will collect your old cell phone (just make sure you wipe it clean of any data first and remove the SIM card...):
Visit the links for detailed drop-off, mail-in, and collection event information.
Recycling: a Green Call - Recycling cell phones helps the environment by saving energy and keeping useable and valuable materials out of landfills and incinerators. Cell phones are made from precious metals, copper, and plastics—all of which require energy to mine and manufacture. Recycling these materials not only conserves resources, but prevents air and water pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.
Recycling: a Social Call - Donating your cell phone also benefits your community. When cell phones and accessories are in good working condition, some programs donate them to a number of worthy charities or provide them for discounted sale to those who need them. In addition, many recycling programs use the proceeds to raise funds for charitable organizations, schools, churches and other social causes. In some cases, programs buy the phone back from the consumer.
For an interesting look at how the recycling process works (complete with pictures), check out:
To learn more, go to www.epa.gov/cellphones