Photo of my collected cell phones from my cell phone fundraiser
Do you change your cell phone as much as your underwear? I hope not! I swear there are some people I know that must have a new phone every time I see them. Many of these compulsive sufferers could be our friends, neighbors or family members. It is not limited to “boys with their toys.” Take a look at how many “cool gadget” sites there are on the web. Face it, we like our big people toys.
According to CITA, the international Association of Wireless Telecommunications, more than 230 million Americans have cell phones. By year 2011, 75% of the world population will own a cell phone up from almost 50% presently, as stated by Portio Research LTD., an independent UK research company specializing in the mobile and wireless sector.1
Instead of keeping up with the Joneses, it has become keeping up with the Jetsons. Remember, “my son, Elroy, and his dog, Astro?”
The EPA estimates that 150 million cell phones are taken out of service each year.2 Only 20% of cell phones are recycled as indicated by the EPA.3 The balance of the phones are either in people’s drawers or have been thrown away.
A study published in the April 2007 issue of American Chemical Society’s Environmental Science & Technology, a semi-monthly journal, revealed the following:
“In the new study, researchers used standard lab procedures to analyze chemicals in simulated cell phone “leachate” — the liquid that dribbles out into the soil from cell phones in dumps and landfills. Lead in the leachate was high enough to make cell phones classify as hazardous waste under Federal regulations, the study found. Lead-free phones, however, still are classified as hazardous waste under California regulations due to high levels of copper, nickel, antimony and zinc in the leachate.“4
Recycling cell phones reduces greenhouse gas emissions. According to the EPA, the recycling of the anticipated million of unused cell phones that will be retired each year could reduce greenhouse gas emissions equal to 1368 cars being taken off the road. In addition, the recycling or re-using of cell phones keeps valuable materials out of landfills and incinerators, which conserves our natural resources.5
Selling Your Phones:
There is no longer any reason to throw your phone away or keep it in your drawer for prosperity. There are numerous companies that you can discard your cell phones. You can donate, sell or recycle the phones. Many of the phones can be refurbished and reused.
In my article, Get Paid to Do Something Good for the Earth, I spoke about Second Rotation (now Gazelle,) which pays for working cell phones, gaming devices, and other assorted electronics. BuyMyTronics accepts broken or used cell phones, iPods, iPhones, and other electronics.
My Fundraising Experience.
After I wrote my Eco-fundraising article, I decide to put my theories to the test. I added electronic recycling to my group of recycling efforts at my children’s schools to help raise funds for PTA programs. I started collecting hand-held electronics at the beginning of January. A notice was included in the weekly electronic bulletin which specified the type of hand-held electronics I could take.
Before you proceed to start this recycling campaign, check with your recycling organization what they will or will not take in regards to accessories such as batteries, chargers, and headsets. It is important in the case of Second Rotation (now Gazelle,) that I asked for all the accessories with the phones such as chargers and written or CD operation manuals.
The Company pays a little better if you have the accessories. My theory is if I collect the accessories, less items will go in the trash. In addition, I could test if the phones work or not. My plan was I would see which company paid more money for the electronics between Ecophones, Second Rotation or BuyMyTronics.
To date, I have only collected about 20 phones or other assorted electronics. My district is small, but I was a little disappointed in my collection efforts. Most people followed the rules and sent me chargers. Some did not. For those phones missing chargers, I would use another phone’s charger to see if it worked.
If you receive a lot of phones, it may not be worth your time and effort to find out which company pays the most per phone. Just find one company that offers fundraising and takes broken or used phones. Some company’s missions may be more to your liking than others. In addition, ask if the company recycles the broken phones responsibly rather than adding them to the e-waste stream.
The other downside to asking for hand-held electronics is I received items other than I requested such as a CD changer and a home portable phone. I will either have to take them over to the county recycling place to dispose of them or find someone who can use them. If I dispose of CD changers with the county it will cost me $3.00. I may just list them for free on Freecycle to see who wants them.
Where do I send my broken or used cell phone and other electronics?
Here’s a list of different types of organizations for you to use:
BuyMyTronics: Sell your used or broken cell phones, iPods, iPhones, and other electronics. Offers International sales. Note, that their offices are powered by wind energy.
Second Rotation (now Gazelle): Sell your working cell phones and other assorted electronics on their easy to navigate website. Offers International sales.
Ecophones: An easy fundraiser that takes both used and broken cell phones, print cartridges, certain laptops, DVDs, and video games. They do not take accessories such as chargers.
Recycling Advantage (formerly known as PhoneFund): An easy fundraiser, which takes cell phones, laptops, digital cameras, and PDAs. They accept all phones. However, there is not a price list on the site since the phones need to be inspected. They do not take accessories such as chargers.
Recycle for Breast Cancer: You can donate cell phones, iPods, pagers, televisions, laptops, router hubs, cooper fittings, business phones, and a multitude of other electronic devices and parts. All proceeds go towards the fight against Breast cancer.
American Cell phone Drive: donate your cell phone and help out a local charity. Enter your zip code and the website will provide you with a list of who is collecting in your area and for which charity or non-profit organizations, such as schools and religious organizations.
Recycling for Charities: Donate cell phones, PDAs, palm pilots, and digital cameras to benefit charities, schools, and religious organizations. Such organizations can sign up to be designated recipients of funds from this Company.
Additionally, such organizations can do their own fundraising too.
What I like about this organization is a business or single person can donate their electronic equipment online and designate a charity to support. In the case of a school, grandparents and other relatives, who don’t live near you, can easily support your child’s school by designating the school when they donate their equipment.
Cell phones for Soldiers: Donate cell phones, blackberries, pagers, batteries, and accessories for soldiers oversea to be able to call home. If you choose to fundraise with Ecophones or PhoneFund collect the accessories and donate them to Cell Phones for Soldiers.
Donate them to Shelters for Battered Women with programs like Shelter Alliance, which you can collect money through your own fundraiser, earn community service hours, or just donate cell phones. Another resource for donating to shelters is Verizon’s HopeLine.
CollectiveGood: Donate old cell phones, PDAs, other palm pilots, and pagers to benefit certain charities who have partnered with this organization. The Company offers convenient drops off locations at Staples and FedEx/Kinkos Stores. The Equipment is refurbished and resold to provide affordable wireless service throughout such countries as Caribbean, Latin America, Eastern Europe and India.(Update: 1/20/15: They may no longer be in business since their last blog post was 2012.)
Charitable Recycling: Donate cell phones to benefit over 10,000 international organizations. Phones are distributed to shelters for abused adults and children, medical patients who are awaiting transplants, or deployed to areas where the cost of a cell phone is cost prohibitive. This organization is part of The Wireless Source.
For Canadian cell phone recycling, see this website.
Recelluar Wireless recycling: provides a donation section which contains over 40,000 US locations to donate your phone. In addition, you can either start a fundraiser or team up with anyone of their partners to create a donation program.
Simply Cellular: sell or donate your cell phones. Monies generated from the company’s operations are given to law enforcement and victim service organizations in the United States.
UK based Companies:
Rethink Europe: Collects cell phones, PDAs, and print cartridges. Raises money from donations of cell phones for charities listed on their site, provides a list of participating retailers for drop off locations, and fundraising opportunities for organizations.
See the article, “50 Ways to leave your cell phone,” which includes some of the names listed above. Note, some of the companies may not exist or changed their names.
EPA’s Program, Recycle Your Cell Phone. EPA has partnered with various large retailers, manufacturers, and carriers. The EPA provides a list of where you can drop off or mail your cell phone.
Be sure to erase your photo data before recycling, donating or selling your phones. Learn how to erase your phone data.
If I have not mentioned any other cell phone collectors, then please list them. In addition, if you have any information who collects old cell phones in Austrailia, New Zealand, China, or Europe, please provide the name for our readers.
Thanks, readers for your help.
1 Portio Research Ltd., Worldwide Mobile Penetration will Reach 75% by 2011, based upon the market study, “The Next Billion: Strategies for driving growth and making profits in low-ARPU mobile markets,” published in October, 2007, http://www.portioresearch.com/next_billion_press.html accessed March, 2008.
2Claudia, “U.S. agency to encourage recycling of cellphones,” International Herald Review, January 8, 2008, http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/01/08/technology/cell.php, accessed March, 2008
3“Recycle Your Cell Phone. It’s an Easy Call.” EPA, http://www.epa.gov/cellphone/, accessed 2008
4American Chemical Society (2007, April 16). Cell Phones Qualify As Hazardous Waste. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 11, 2008, from http://www.sciencedaily.com /releases/2007/04/070416092940.htm, accessed March, 2008
5“Recycle Your Cell Phone. It’s an Easy Call.” EPA, http://www.epa.gov/cellphone/, accessed March, 2008
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