The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is promoting the importance of recycling cellular phones with the help of phone manufacturers and retailers that are members of EPA’s Plug-In To eCycling program. The event started April 6 and will run through April 10.
The average cell phone is replaced after 18 months, and the circuitry inside can contain mercury or other hazardous materials. The EPA claims that only 10 percent of these unwanted phones were recycled in 2007, with many phones being stored in a garage instead of disposed at all.
Sprint has been specifically pushing phone recycling and has set a goal of collecting 250,000 phones during April. Other partners in the Plug-In to eCycling program are setting up in-store promotions and contests to encourage recycling.
“With Earth Day approaching, people are thinking about what they can do to give back to our planet,” says Matt Hale, director of EPA’s Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery. “Recycling your old cell phone is a great way to conserve resources and help make a greener world.”
In many cases, a donated phone doesn’t even need to be recycled. Millions of phones are donated every year to charities, including organizations like Cell Phones for Life, which provides phones for people with disabilities and battered women shelters. The phones are often used for emergencies because cell phones don’t need to be connected to a service provider to be able to dial 911.
The EPA has produced a series of podcasts to promote cell phone recycling.