Whether you're just looking to be environmentally friendly, or you're hoping to raise a little money for yourself, your company or your charity, recycling your cell phone or starting a cell phone recycling drive is a great option. The latest technology, which seems to change every few months, is perpetually rendering "older" cell phones obsolete. And a cell phone doesn't even have to be that old; the average life of a cell phone is 18 months. That means that there are millions of old cell phones cluttering up drawers, collecting dust in boxes in the garage, and, worst of all, being dumped in land fills.
In fact, some people make a LOT of money recycling cell phones - check out how they do it with a cell phone recycling business.
With an estimated 130 million cell phones retired annually, and only 1% of those being recycled, people have started creating incentives and even laws to encourage people to recycle their cell phones. For instance, in California and New York, cell phone retailers are required to accept all old and/or obsolete cell phones, regardless of the phone's condition. This leads us to your first cell phone recycling option:
- Donate Your Phone. Most major cell phone carriers, including Sprint and Verizon have cell phone recycling programs that allow you to either drop off your old cell phone at a store, or mail it in (with a pre-paid envelope from the carrier). They will then either recycle the cell phone (if it can't be refurbished), or refurbish the cell phone and donate the proceeds to a specific charity.
Since most companies will accept any cell phone and cell phone accessories (it doesn't necessarily have to be one of theirs), you can choose which charity you'd like the proceeds from your cell phone to go to. For example, Verizon's Hopeline donates its cell phone recycling proceeds to victims of domestic violence. Verizon donates both financially and in the form of free cell phones and air time so that women who may not have any other option, can call 9-1-1 from the phones Verizon provides for them. Sprint, on the other hand, donates to K-12 public education. All of Sprint's proceeds from their cell phone recycling program go toward improving student achievement, family engagement, and educator development.
Clearly both companies donate to worthy charities. Each cell phone provider has a different cause, such as T-Mobile's Huddle Up, which donates to kids from single-parent families in high need communities. So do a little research to determine which charity you'd most like to donate to, and recycle your cell phone through them.
Click here to find the location of a charitable cell phone recycling program near you. You can sort by specific program, or just find the cell phone drop off closest to you.
- Organize a Drive. If you have a charity of your own that you'd like to raise money for, or you'd like to earn some extra revenue for your company, you can start your own cell phone recycling drive. To do so you can register online at Wireless Recycling.
You can typically collect any wireless cell phones and battery chargers (not car phones and not cordless home phones) regardless of their age, size and condition. Many phones that aren't currently working can still be refurbished. As you may guess, the newest cell phones will typically generate the most funds.
The smallest, newest phones can generate up to $10 or more for your business or charity, while older phones may only yield between $1 and $3. Totally obsolete phone may not generate any funds, but will still be recycled according to EPA regulations. If you're looking to determine how much money you'll be able to raise, you should conservatively estimate about $1 per phone. However, this will depend on the types of phones you collect.
- Deduct Your Donation. Donating your cell phone is also tax deductible. So make sure to get a tax receipt from the program you donate you phone to and write off your recycled cell phone on next year's taxes.