Nearly Half Of All Old Cell Phones Are Not Being Recycled

April 22, 2013 - Written By Chance Miller

Whenever you get a new smartphone, the carrier and/or manufacturer usually always includes a prepaid label and bag to send your old phone back with so it gets recycled. If you’re switching from a smartphone to a new smartphone, then you’ll probably sell your old phone to help pay for the new one. But we have to remember that there are still many people making the jump from “dumb” phones to smartphones, and many of those “dumb” phones are worth no money. That’s who the the carriers are really going after with those recycling messages, but it turns out most people don’t pay attention to them.

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As Earth Day nears, the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association, or CWTA, is looking to inform people about the number of old smartphones going to waste. The organization released an infographic as part of its Recycle My Cell campaign on Friday detailing just how many phones are going to waste. It’s mainly worth noting that 41% of all old cell phones are being stored in a junk drawer as opposed to being recycled. Of all phones in Canada, just 12 percent of phones were correctly recycled by sending it to the carriers, giving it to a retail store, or giving it to a local recycling factory.

  • 72% of Canadians either own a cell phone or plan to buy one in the near future
  • The average consumer keeps their device for approximately 2 years and 7 months
  • Only 12% of used mobile devices in Canada are currently being recycled; the rest are stored, sold, gifted or thrown out
  • There are thousands of cell phone recycling drop-off sites across Canada
  • About 96% of the materials in an average mobile device are recyclable
  • Every year, 20 to 50 million metric tons of E-waste are disposed of worldwide

What many people don’t realize is that many of their old phones could be used by other less-developed countries to further expand their communications with the world. To those people, your old Nokia would be a huge gift. If you have any old phones lying around in your junk drawer, then it’s encouraged that you recycle them. It’s a way for all of us geeks to help on Earth Day while still avoiding that Sun thing as much as possible.