Gallery: EPA Announces New Cell-phone Recycling Program


The Consumer Electronics Show is all about the sizzle of shiny and new, but what happens to your old gadgets when you are ready for an upgrade? This week, the EPA announced an easy cellphone recycling program partnership with key phone device makers and service providers. The goal: redirect the 130 million cellphones that will be retired this year to a responsible afterlife. Through this partnership, there are multiple mail-in and drop-off opportunities to be reborn through cell phone donation, or recycled with care.

The biggest impact you can make is to ensure your phone survives the longest possible life, to reduce its ecological impact. “The highest level, and from an environmental standpoint, what we can do is eliminate the need to create a new phone. That’ll eliminate the need to mine new materials, to go through a manufacturing process, and there are markets for the used phones that are viable that allow us to put those phones directly back into an active reuse environment, Says Craig Boswell, VP of Operations from Hobi Recycling in an interview with the EPA. Cell phones contain enough lead to qualify as hazardous waste under federal regulations. Even lead-free phones are considered hazardous under California law because of the copper, nickel, antimony and zinc that leach into landfills.

Yet still, the industry pushes out new phones every year designed to last the length of the service contract. On the one hand, we laud the EPA for making cellphone recycling so much easier for consumer. On the other, we wonder if there will ever be an opportunity to design for a longer cell phone life. Maybe you are the late adopter, slow-to-upgrade type, and are still holding your StarTac together with duct tape. But how many of you even remember your phone from four years ago?

Learn more about the EPA program, and the partner companies:

Wireless Service providers: AT&T Wireless, Sprint, and T-Mobile

Retailers: Best Buy, Office Depot, and Staples

Device makers: LG Electronics, Motorola, Nokia, Samsung, and Sony Ericsson



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  1. Alexi January 12, 2008 at 7:54 am

    Good intentions trying to prolong phone life. But if a phone lifespan is increased two times then phone-maker gets two times less money. I don’t think phone-makers are waiting for it to happen. So i think clever recycling is more real than prolonging phone life.

    to Kat
    I thought about similar thing. Nowadays in megapolises commute time is huge. I live in Istanbul and here spending avergage 3-4 hours a day in traffic is a norm. Sad thing this time is thrown away as people do nothing but staring out of buses’ windows at cars passing by. Sounds stupid i know but what if people get bicycle under their seats so that they power up the vechicle and do sports simultaneously :) We could fight petrol emmisions and cellulite at the same time!!!

  2. Marilyn Terrell January 12, 2008 at 12:45 am

    It’s great to know about this. Now if EPA could find a way to responsibly recycle all our old tvs and computers so they don’t end up in a reeking dump in Accra, where kids burn the plastic coating off wires so they can sell the copper:

  3. Kat January 11, 2008 at 12:34 am

    guess i should have been reading inhabitat on march 8th. doesn’t help being a genius if someone else thinks of it first.

  4. Kat January 11, 2008 at 12:31 am

    i just read the Related Post “Bike to Power Your Cell Phone.” if gyms were to harness all the energy produced by treadmill, eliptical, and stationary bike users, they’d save a ton if they could use it to power all their tvs or sell it back to the grid.

    also interesting is the added motivation to hop on the exercise equipment. aside from just being lazy, some people feel a little silly that they have to run indoors in one spot to make up for sitting at work all day- aside from being painfully aware of the bleak metaphore- but instead they can be thinking “gotta get my cellphone charged for tomorrow.” i like it.

    guess i should be posting this in that article’s comments section.

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