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Why recycling phones is the smart choice

April 9th, 2010 · 4 Comments

Recycling phones has become fashionable in recent years but we still have long way to go. Let’s review the reasons why recycling phones is the smart choice

Collecting used cell phones for recycling

Recycling phones has become fashionable in recent years but, going by the current numbers, we still have a long way to go. This week is the National Cell Phone Recycling Week in the United States, an event spearheaded by the US Environmental Protection Agency, to encourage more Americans to recycle their used mobile phones.

Why recycle phones? Why not just trash these old, clunky, and obsolete units, have these hauled to the landfills, and be done with it?

Let’s review the reasons why recycling phones is the smart choice:

Recycling phones for cash

Those old cell phones that you’ve kept hidden in sock drawers, cupboards, or closets in your house are worth a good amount of money. Cell phone traders and recyclers, like Pacebutler Corporation will pay as much as $100 for each of those mobile phones (depending, of course, on the model, the brand, and the quality of the unit). The older the phones get, the less valuable they become. To get the best value, therefore, for your discarded cell phones, you need to sell these to a recycler, as soon as you upgrade to a newer model. Of course, if you’re thinking of keeping a reserve unit if something happens to your new one, by all means, keep one or two, but turn the rest in for cash.

Now, if for some reason, you don’t need the cash, you can still sell these old units and have the proceeds sent to a charity or non-profit of your choice. When you donate cell phones this way, you’re basically contributing much-needed funds to your preferred charity, from out of something that, in all likelihood, no longer has any value to you.

Recycling phones to clear up clutter

In our consumerist society, many of us are constantly drawn to the promise of newer, more advanced techno toys – dataphones, laptops, PDAs, or computers – being churned out by manufacturers like Apple, Samsung, or Motorola. The latest may not always be the best, as we all know, but that’s beside the point. People always go for shiny, new things all the time. Case in point: Apple sold 300,000 units of the iPad on the very first day of that product’s recent launch!

If you’re like many of us who are forever captivated by new technology, chances are, there’s a sizable collection of old, discarded cell phones and other electronic clutter stored in some forgotten box somewhere in your house or apartment. Recycling phones is an easy and convenient way to clear up a bit of the clutter. The transactions are conveniently done online, and in just a few minutes, you’ll have those old cell phones out of your house, for good. An added bonus to having a cleaner pad, would be the check from the used cell phone trader that should be in your mail, within a few days after you’ve sent the old units to them.

Used mobile phones in a recycling facility

Recycling Phones to help protect the environment

Chemicals from used cell phones being discarded in landfills do contaminate the surrounding soil and water systems. However, the biggest impact, in my opinion, recycling phones has on the environment, is in resources conservation. You see, in order to manufacture cell phones, you have to extract minerals and manufacture materials – like gold, silver, coltan, copper, plastic, and glass – that will become the components of these mobile devices.

By recycling phones, old materials are, in effect, returned to and reused in the manufacturing process. In most cases, the recovery is 100 percent. What this means is that an old cell phone can be broken down into its basic components, during the recycling process, and used to produce a brand new unit – without requiring the input of new materials! Cell phone recycling , as result, directly and significantly prevents damage to the environment, which inevitably occurs whenever new materials are mined or manufactured.

Recycling phones to help protect our health

As mentioned above, old cellular phones discarded in a landfill can potentially leach dangerous chemicals and metals to the soil or waterways around that particular landfill. We’re talking about lead, cadmium, arsenic, brominated flame retardants, and mercury – some of the most poisonous and dangerous metals known to man – making their way into our water reservoirs and agricultural lands.

Exposure to these elements have been known to cause brain, urinary, and nervous system disorders, as well as documented cases of cancer and other illnesses. Obviously, the metals found in each mobile phone unit are just minute or trace amounts, but think about the impact of thousands upon thousands of cellular phones being dumped in our city and county landfills. Recycling phones is the best way to have these devices safely disposed and to keep these hazards away from our landfills.

Recycling phones is gaining traction in the US, thanks to the relentless campaigns of agencies like EPA, but there’s still so much room for growth. At the moment, we are recycling less than 10 percent of the 130 million or so cell phones that we discard every year. Whether you just want to earn some extra cash, remove clutter, defend the environment, or help protect our health, recycling phones is the way to go. As the EPA refrain goes, “it’s an easy call to make.”

Photo Credits:
Top photo via: Minuteman Senior Services
Middle photo via: QuicklyBored.com

Tags: Cell Phone Recycling

4 responses so far ↓

  • 1 cebu // Apr 13, 2010 at 10:30 pm

    I guess it’s pretty much helpful for environmental awareness. Unused means unproductive, let’s get the benefit from it.

  • 2 Glass Bottles // Apr 15, 2010 at 8:30 pm

    Thank you for making cell recycling such a major priority. This is one of the biggest things that we need to make the world aware of. Cell phones have potential to do some real harm if not handled properly.

  • 3 Kenny // Apr 21, 2010 at 9:57 am

    What do they do with the old phones? What do they recycle? Do they reuse certain parts, I hardly see the value in recycling a phone let alone someone will to pay me $100 for a old unused an outdated phone. But i’m glad they are doing it. Just wish i new more about what they doing with them.

  • 4 Michael // Apr 21, 2010 at 4:49 pm

    @Kenny, thanks for your comments. Cell phone trading and recycling companies like Pacebutler make a profit by refurbishing and reselling used cell phones to markets in South America and Asia.

    Unserviceable phones are fully recycled for metals like gold, silver, coltan, etc. that they have inside. Glass and plastic are also recycled – at the end of the process, 99 percent of materials found inside a cell phone are reused to manufacture new cell phones. See this post for a more detailed explanation:


    No, not every phone that they buy is worth or priced $100. Some old units are just worth $.50 cents. Please see this page for the actual buying prices of used cell phones: