Old Cell Phones
What Should We Do With Old Cell Phones?
We love our cell phones and are lost without them, but we are a fickle group. After time, almost any cell phone will cease to function, but long before that, many of us find a newer model to replace our more "antiquated" phone.
The average person uses a cell phone approximately 18 months before replacing it. With an estimated 250 million plus cell phones in the US alone, this presents an issue as far as disposal of old cell phones. It's currently estimated that there are 500 million cell phones sitting on shelves or in landfills in this country with an additional 2 million phones being added to this total weekly.
The EPA has designated mobile phones as hazardous waste due to their lead, mercury, cadmium, and arsenic content. Thus, we are faced with the environmental/health issues that arise, as well as the economic result of wasted resources.
Find out your options for dealing with old cell phones. Use the expandable Table of Contents below to find things quickly.
What is the Cost of Disposing of Old Cell Phones Improperly?
- US Geological Survey Fact Sheet
A concise report about the amount of waste that you contribute each time you improperly dispose of an old cell phone or other electronics.
- High Tech Toxic
A brief report of the hazardous elements within cell phones, as well as other electronics, and the associated health hazards.
- NY Times Article
A detailed article about the scope of the problem and upcoming options.
- Recycling for Charities
An article that covers some of the major toxic elements in old cell phones and their negative effects on us.
Why are Old Cell Phones Hazardous?
Don't sell, donate, recycle, or otherwise dispose of old cell phones until you've made sure your personal information has been removed. Read lower on the page about what precautions to take.
Option 1: Recycle Old Cell Phones
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that less than 20% of of old cell phones are currently being recycled. Consumers do have viable options to recycle old cell phones; some programs reclaim the precious metals and components of the phone and others provide donated equipment that is still operable for charity.
The EPA has worked with leading manufacturers and retailers to make recycling old cell phones easier. Read about the joint cell phone recycling campaign.
The EPA site even provides a list of locations where cell phones can be taken for recycling
Finding Where to Recycle Old Cell Phones
There are many sites online that offer recycling services. In most instances, consumers merely fill out a form and mail their old cell phone, with the form, to the address provided.
Recyclemycellphone is one such site. The site also encourages interested visitors to help in setting up recycling programs within their community.
Most wireless providers, and some manufacturers, offer recycling programs. AT&T offers such an option. Find out more about the charitable efforts of other providers below.
For organizations, schools, and businesses ThinkRecycle offers a program with cash rewards.
Option 2: Donate Old Cell Phones
If you want to donate old cell phones for charity, there are many programs available. Most cellular carriers, in fact, offer programs.
For instance, Verizon Wireless offers the Hopeline program which collects phones from any provider to assist victims of domestic violence. They also conduct a battery recycling program. Similarly, T-Mobile has the Huddle Up program to benefit charities and Sprint offers Project Connect.
To donate old cell phones to others in need, or to raise funds for charity, there are many additional options, several of which are listed below.
Where to Donate Old Cell Phones
- Wireless Recycling
Wireless Recycling can take your donated phones or work with organizations to start a donation program
- Recycle Wireless Phones
This site can help you find a donation site and/or a charity to support.
- Charitable Recycling
Donate old cell phones or start your own fundraiser.
- Collective Good
Pick a charity and donate old cell phones.
- Cell Phones for Soldiers
The name says it all.
Ship your old cell phones in or find a local donation center.
- Charity Cell Phones
Choose from major charities.
- GRC Recycling
Ship your old cell phone through the mail to benefit partners of the site.
- Funding Factory
Conduct a fundraiser to donate old cell phones for serious money.
Option 3: Sell Old Cell Phones
Cell phones can cost quite a bit of money. Therefore, the option to sell old cell phones can be attractive to help cover the cost of a new one.
One such option is CellForCash.com. Users of this service can get cash for their functioning cell phone and cash for referrals to the program. Cellforcash will even provide the postage paid box for mailing your phone.
Another option to sell old cell phones is SimplySellular.
Certainly, used cell phones can also be sold through sites such as e-bay and Craigslist as well.
Option 4: Trade Old Cell Phones
For those who wish to rid themselves of not only their cell phone but also a current cellular contract, it may pay to investigate the option to trade old cell phones and contract via subleasing. One such site that can assist with this is CellTradeUSA.
CellTradeUSA basically connects individuals who wish to get out of a contract with people wanting to get in. Users can post a free ad indicating the monthly fee, the minutes, and the remaining contract period that would be assumed. There is a single fee of $19.99 to gain unlimited access to responses from your posting. Once someone is found to assume the contract, the process is brief and simply involves a credit check by the cellular provider and signing a transfer contract. This system allows users to get out of contracts early, pass along their phone to another user, and avoid any early termination fees.
Cellswapper is another option to trade old cell phones for someone wanting out of a contract.
For cell phone owners who simply want to trade to offset the expense of a new phone with all the bells and whistles, there are sites that allow this. One such site is FlipSwap which allows users to send in their old phone and obtain a new phone at a reduced cost.
Before You Part with Your Old Cell Phone
Whether you recycle, trade, or sell old cell phones there are precautions you should take.Terminate your account to assure no additional charges will be associated with it. Cell phones contain a great deal of personal information so before you send your phone off for recycling, donation, or to a buyer, be sure you have removed as much data as possible. Remove your SIM card. Check the cell phone manual for instructions on how to reset your phone.If someone else will be using your old cell phone, you should unlock it first to assure it can be used by the receiving party. Sites online abound to help with this, TheTravelInsider is one such site.
Old Cell Phones: The Final Option
The majority of old cell phones are still in fine working order when we replace them. Thus, the final option for an old phone is obvious, keep it and use it.
A choice can be made to wait another year or two to "upgrade". This also offers the advantage of significant money savings.
Even if you choose to replace a functioning phone, perhaps a backup could be useful. A phone that is kept in the car for emergency use, or used when more rugged conditions are anticipated. Hiking, going to the beach, and similar activities do pose certain threats to that shiny new model. Or perhaps, not every member of the family has their own phone, having a "floater phone" that is used as needed could be a great way of meeting some of the less routine communication needs.
Even old cell phones without service can be used to make 911 calls, making these older phones valuable.
Intro Photo Credit: Shortfatkid on Flickr.
Recycle Old Cell Phones Photo Credit: cogdogblog
Donate Old Cell Phones Photo Credit: Oracio.
Selling Old Cell Phones Photo Credit: ppdigital.
Finding Where to Recycle Photo Credit: Bombardier
Trade Old Cell Phones Photo Credit: dyobmit.
Before You Part with Your Old Cell Phone Photo Credit: ninjanoodles
Old Cell Phones: The Final Option Photo Credit: djloche.