Cell phones are now our constant companions, but there comes a time when we have to say goodbye. …You’re not fast enough, your camera doesn’t cut it, you’re too small and you’re just not cool. When saying goodbye to an old friend who has been with you for a long time, you might wonder – where does it go from here? Billions, yes billions of cell phones have been made throughout the last few decades. What happens to these cast off electronic devices? Where do old cell phones go?…
Happy 2nd Birthday!…Buh Bye.
According to the New York Times, we get new cell phones just about every two years. This translates into hundreds of millions of old cell phones, being replaced every few years. Where are all these old cell phones now?
In many cases companies like Gazelle or Green Citizen will buy back or take donations of old cell phones from individuals or corporations. Gazelle, one of the pioneers in refurbishing and recycling of cell phones, will give you cash for your old cell phone, refurbishes them for resale, or will repurpose the parts for other uses.
Gazelle pays you cash to sell them your old phone, and then in many cases refurbishes the phones for resale. There is a huge market for refurbished phones, and more than likely someone’s old cell phone will end up being someone else’s new cell phone. Gazelle is a company that both buys phones, and resells them after refurbishing.
Green Citizen will also buy back old cell phones and will even pick them up in bulk for free, from collection centers. Green Citizen refurbishes cell phones and resells them to dealers on internet sales sites. In their facility, 21 percent of old cell phones are rehabbed, the rest which are too old or broken after disassembly are put into bins to be shipped to recycling centers.
Trashed Cell Phones
Some cell phone materials are toxic, take years to break down and are dangerous to be exposed to. If put into landfills, these units can become ticking time bombs for the environment.
In the US, we’ve made it easy to properly dispose or recycle old cell phones. However, there is much concern about electronic parts recyclers around the world using improper procedures and endangering employee lives with exposure to materials that can become hazardous, if handled improperly.
The US Environmental Protection Agency states that the US can recover 35,000 pounds of copper, a few hundred pounds of silver and just under a hundred pounds of gold, for every million cell phones that are recycled. That is a significant reason to recycle old phones instead of putting them in landfills. The reclaimed materials can go back into many production uses, including the manufacture of more new cell phones. Old cell phones can easily be recycled by turning them in to your cell phone provider. Additionally, convenient drop-off bins are located at many stores and shopping centers.
What about the rest?
In most cases a cell phone represents a significant expense, and for that reason many people keep their old cell cell phones instead of recycling them. The EPA statistics say that only 10 percent of old cell phones are recycled. There’s really no reason for most people to keep an old cell phone, after they’ve stopped using it. By hoarding these old phones, its valuable resources are kept out of the hands of recyclers and refurbishing companies to recover the components to make other new products. With so many outlets to sell or donate a used cell phone, it’s really doesn’t take any effort at all.
It’s not over, til it’s over…
The final journey of your old cell phone is far from final, no matter if it’s recycled or refurbished to be used again. With intelligent recycling programs, old cell phones can be made into new ones, over and over. You can easily recycle it with your cell phone provider or drop it off at a local collection bin. Plus, a strong market for the resale of good, used and refurbished phones, makes it easy to get cash for an old cell phone, so it can live another day.
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