Sprint's Ambitious Recycling Goal

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Sprint recently announced a new, industry-leading objective to reach a 90 percent phone collection rate for reuse and recycling by 2017.

“This is a challenge for the entire industry,” said Dan Hesse, Sprint CEO. “Sprint is the first to set an aggressive 90 percent recovery goal. Sprint is committed to lead the industry in conserving natural resources, decreasing energy use and lowering greenhouse gas emissions.”

To help accomplish this new goal, Sprint instituted a “Zer0 e-Waste” policy, ensuring the collected phones are recycled safely and ethically by the providers who receive and process the phones. This policy means that Sprint does not ship electronic scrap to “underdeveloped” (non-OECD) countries. Also, all of Sprint’s recycling vendors are contractually obligated to follow the policy and are audited to ensure compliance.

According to the company, the U.S. contains over 270 million cell phone users, and more than 140 million cell phones are discarded every year. Additionally, a recent Sprint survey examining consumers’ mobile phone recycling habits found that nine out of 10 surveyed own at least one, or as many as five, old, unused mobile phones.

In 2008, Sprint collected more than three million units. This was equal to 34 percent of devices sold, an increase from 22 percent in 2007. Of the handsets that Sprint collected in 2008, more than 90 percent were reused.

According to Sprint, more than 140 million cell phones are discarded annually in the U.S., most of which are sent to landfills or waste incinerators. Photo: Cohesion.rice.edu

According to Sprint, more than 140 million cell phones are discarded annually in the U.S., most of which are sent to landfills or waste incinerators. Photo: Cohesion.rice.edu

What We Save

According to the U.S. EPA, for every one million cell phones recycled, enough energy would be saved to provide electricity to more than 2,000 U.S. homes each year and would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by the equivalent of taking almost 1,400 cars off of the road.

Looking to recycle your old cell? Anyone can recycle with Sprint Project Connect. The program accepts all wireless phones, batteries, accessories and data cards, regardless of carrier or condition. Free postage-paid envelopes are also available at any Sprint-owned retail store and come in the box with most new phones sold by Sprint.

Want to know what your old phone may become, if it can’t be reused?

  • Jewelry, electronics, plumbing, catalysts or art foundries – These are created with the precious metals recovered from cell phones and accessories (e.g., gold, silver, platinum, copper, brass and other metals).
  • Road beds and shingle components in the asphalt industry – These materials are created with slag from the metal refining process.
  • Lawn furniture, license plate frames, non-food containers, racks and replacement automotive parts – Items are made with ground plastics from wireless devices and accessories.
  • New rechargeable battery products – New products can be created from reconditioned rechargeable batteries.
  • Fiber board components – These are manufactured from reused paper products.

Since 2001, Sprint’s recycling and reuse programs have raised more than $6 million for charities. Today, all net proceeds generated from the wireless equipment collected by Sprint Project Connect support Internet safety for kids through Sprint’s 4NetSafety℠ program.

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