Today is America Recycles Day 2007 and CTIA, The Wireless Association, wants to remind us to recycle used wireless devices and accessories. Green is the trendy thing to be these days, so why not get rid of some clutter and become popular by recycling?
“These days, many Americans are `going green’ and taking measures to reduce, reuse and recycle in their daily lives,” said CTIA-The Wireless Association® President and CEO, Steve Largent. “America Recycles Day is a great reminder for the more than 250 million wireless subscribers in the U.S. to reduce their carbon footprint by recycling their old cell phones and accessories.”
I don’t know how Largent got his job with the CTIA, but it wasn’t because of his knowledge of environmental science. Recycling a cell phone has nothing to do with reducing carbon emissions. In fact, more carbon emissions will be released into the atmosphere by recycling wireless devices than if you simply throw them out. All the shipping and processing of old handsets requires much more energy than simply digging a hole and throwing the things in. The potential danger comes from what these devices are made of. The metals and chemicals used to produce mobile phones are a potential hazard when they break down in a landfill or are incinerated.
“Millions of phones have been collected and kept out of landfills thanks to the wireless industry’s commitment to wireless recycling and the maintenance of successful, consumer friendly recycling programs,” continued Largent. “Thousands of drop-off locations, including every major wireless carrier retail store, collect all makes and models of wireless phones, accessories and chargers, making it easy for consumers across the country to participate in wireless recycling.”
Recycling drop off spots have expanded beyond carrier retail stores. Major retailers such as The Body Shop and Best Buy accept old devices, free of charge.
If you are going to recycle, here are some easy steps to follow. 1. Terminate the service for that cell phone. You don’t want unauthorized calls from Mongolia showing up on your bill. 2. Clear the phone’s memory of contacts and other stored personal information by utilizing the Cell Phone Data Eraser at http://wirelessrecycling.com/home/data_eraser/. You don’t want nefarious individuals to get your personal information. 3. Remove the Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) if the handset has one. SIM cards store the service-subscriber key used to identify a subscriber. If you aren’t sure if the device has one or not, call the place you got it from and ask.
If you are a really dedicated environmentalist, ask the place you drop off the phone at what happens to it. MobileCrunch reported in September that, Wales Bags Biggest Mobile Phone Recycling Facility in Europe. You may think that recycled devices are destroyed in a green way but many are refurbished and resold in developing countries. So instead of reducing pollution, it is simply moved to another part of the globe where people are less likely to re-recycle, and simply dump the things when they aren’t functional anymore.