Students will now be able to donate their used wireless phones in an effort to cut down on e-waste in N.Y. landfills. But if the program proves a success, it could go national.
The program’s benefits reach far beyond its environmental impact. UHopeLine is designed to increase awareness of domestic violence and provide aid to survivors.
If possible, the cell phones are refurbished and given to survivors along with service. Old or broken phones are dismantled and profits are donated to domestic violence advocacy organizations.
“That’s the great part,” said David Samberg, spokesperson for Verizon Wireless New York Metro Region. “Not only are you recycling the phones, you’re also doing something positive for your community.”
The bins are placed in common areas throughout the campuses, displaying information including domestic violence hot lines. Wireless phones from all carriers are accepted. The schools are responsible for collecting the phones, but Verizon Wireless covers the cost of the bins and postage.
The program is an extension of HopeLine, a project that has collected more than 6.5 million phones at Verizon Wireless stores nationwide since its inception in 2001. Through that, $7 million in grants have been given to domestic violence organizations and 80,000 phones have been given to victims with 240 million total minutes of usage.
Samberg sees the process as an interlinked chain of participation. “The more bins we get out there and the more places we put these bins, the more phones we collect. The more phones we collect, the more we have out of the waste stream and into the hands of people who need them,” he said.
According to the EPA, an estimated 150 million mobile phones are taken out of service each year. Recycling 1 million cell phones saves enough energy to power more than 185 U.S. households with electricity for a year.