Is your old cell phone leaking toxins?

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Mobile phones and other devices (pagers, PDAs) present a growing threat to the environment.

Only 1 in 10 cell phones are recycled. As of 2009, there are more than ONE BILLION mobile phones waiting to be recycled (in drawers or already in the waste stream). Cell phones and accessories are made from valuable materials such as precious metals, copper, and plastics – all of which require energy to extract and manufacture. Nine out of ten cell phones or devices end up in the waste stream, leaking lead, mercury, cadmium, arsenic and other toxic substances into the water supply. Some municipalities incinerate their waste, releasing toxins into our air.

Recycling helps African gorillas. Cell phones also include coltan, a mineral extracted in the deep forests of Congo in central Africa, home to the world’s endangered lowland gorillas. Fueled by the worldwide cell phone boom, Congo’s out-of-control coltan mining business has in recent years led to a dramatic reduction of animal habitat and the rampant slaughter of great apes for the illegal bush-meat trade.

Save enough energy to power 18,5000 homes for a year. Recycling cell phones reduces greenhouse gas emissions and conserves natural resources. According to the EPA, If Americans recycled 100 million cell phones, enough energy would be saved to power more than 18,500 homes for a year.
How and where to recycle.
“Plug-In to e-Cycling” is a partnership between the EPA and consumer electronics manufacturers, retailers, and service providers that offers you more opportunities to donate or recycle – to “eCycle” – your used cell phones and other electronics. Many of these companies have committed to collecting, recycling or reusing electronics. Click here to find an eCycling partner convenient to you.

More recycling options:

  • Cell Phones for Soldiers. Turn your old cell phone into a prepaid calling card for a US military troop overseas can use to call family back home. You get to select the soldier or family online and they’ll provide a postage paid label that you can print from your computer.
  • Cell Phones for Charities. A portion of the money generated by recycling your cell phone can also go to the charity of your choice. In some cases, you can mail in your phones in exchange for cash for your school or organization. Here are just a handful of organizations accepting used cell phones:

You can recycle your cell phones and other electronics year-round. Consider coordinating an electronics collection in your community!

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