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