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March 23, 2018  |  Login
Recycling Your Cellphone
By Yvonne Jeffery, Liz Barclay, Michael Grosvenor

The EPA estimates that up to 130 million cellphones are retired each year, which means that a lot of dead phones are sitting around unused in drawers or are headed for the trash. Because cellphones contain toxic materials such as mercury, it's important to keep them out of landfills and incinerators. More importantly, however, your old cellphone may just turn out to be someone's lifeline.

Several organizations reprogram retired cellphones so that they can be used free of charge by people, particularly seniors or victims of domestic abuse, to call 911. Other organizations reprogram and sell the phones to raise funds for charity. The following organizations operate such programs:

  • Collective Good ( allows you to mail your phone, PDA, or pager in to be recycled.

  • Phones 4 Charity ( donates or recycles your cellphone or similar device.

  • Wirefly ( offers a trade-in incentive to encourage consumers to recycle wireless devices.

You also can check with your cellphone service provider about a recycling program; many providers collect old phones to reuse parts and to donate to charities.

You can do more than recycle cellphones; consider reducing the number of cellphones in circulation by turning your service provider down the next time you're offered a new model of phone as a free upgrade. If you prefer not to do that, give your old model to a friend or relative who can use it with their own SIM card rather than buy a new phone. The same goes for phone chargers and batteries - pass them on!



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