Green tip of the week: Recycle your old cell phone

Canadians typically replace their cell phones every two to three years (Source: International Comparisons: The Handset Replacement Cycle, June, 23 2011), resulting in millions of old phones that are disposed of across the country. The greenest way to deal with this problem is to extend the life of cell phones as much as possible, but once a phone has reached the end of its useful lifespan, it is possible to recycle most of its contents. The recycling of unwanted cell phones has two important benefits: it allows valuable materials in each phone to be reused in the manufacturing of new products, and it also keeps potentially harmful pollutants from entering landfills.

For those interested in recycling their personal cell phone, a program from the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association (CWTA) makes it easy to hand in unwanted phones to ensure that they are disposed of properly. The Recycle My Cell program accepts unwanted cell phones, smart phones, wireless PDAs, batteries and pagers via drop-off locations across Canada. Be sure to remove the SIM card and any other private information from any phones before turning them in. Headsets, chargers and other accessories are also accepted. And for those unable to access a drop-off location, the program also accepts these disused items through the mail free of charge. All mobile equipment received through the program is sent to a recycling facility for refurbishment or to be taken apart, and the scrap materials are then used to make new phones. According to the CWTA, about 96 per cent of the materials in a typical cell phone are recyclable. For more information, visit the Recycle My Cell website.

It is important to note that York-owned cell phones are collected for recycling by Telecom York and the Campus Service and Business Operations Waste Management unit. When upgrading your York issued phone, leave any unwanted phones with Telecom. And, if you have any old York issued phones collecting dust in your office, send them to Telecom via interoffice mail or drop them off at Room 016 in the Steacie Library.

For information on other ways to reduce, reuse and recycle, visit the York University ZeroWaste site. ZeroWaste is a program of Campus Services and Business Operations.

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[1] Source: International Comparisons: The Handset Replacement Cycle, 23 June 2011.