Shocker, Americans Don't Recycle Cell Phones


So you just got the latest pimped out cell phone and all is right in your world. But now what do you do with your old handheld? According to new data from iSuppli Corp.’s ConsumerTrak service, you’re probably inclined to just stuff it in a drawer or throw it away. Most Americans do. In fact, only about one in 10 old cell phones get recycled.

chart of cell phones

No, it’s not shocking. The infrastructure to recycle phones is sub par and we all know how lazy we can be. But we’ll keep nagging you as it’s not only good for the planet, but is projected to be a $3 billion-a-year business by as early as 2012. Even the EPA has asked you nicely.

Well, the recycling rate in the fourth quarter of 2007 was 9.4 percent, double that of the third quarter and way up from a paltry 1 percent in 2003. So some of us are listening, after all. We just need to keep getting better.

Video from The Secret Life Series.



Cellular phones and other electronic devices are being discarded at an alarming rate and having a devastating effect on our environment. Since 2004, we here at have been working to help reduce the impact of e-waste.
Through our exclusive dealings with electronics recyclers and cell phone refurbishes, we have become the leading on-line retailer of used cell phones.
The choices we make today can affect our land and communities for generations to come. Along with recycling, choosing pre-owned products is a great way to reduce the amount of waste that is overflowing from our landfills and to reduce the amount of energy and resources used to manufacture new items.
Buy used. Stay in contact – reduce your impact.


Green energy is definitely the best solution in most cases. Technology like solar energy, wind power, fuel cells, zaps electric vehicles, EV hybrids, etc have come so far recently. Green energy even costs way less than oil and gas in many cases.


It’s kind of unfair to say that “only 10% is recycled”. Selling them, giving them to friends and charities, and keeping using them is really better than recycling. Less than half of the phones, according to the chart, are “lost” to the planet.

Michael Caton

The good news is that 27.1% are being reused in some form (given to friends, sold or donated to charity). Hopefully charities recycle the ones they don’t use.

I had 3 old ones stored away in a drawer and recycled them when we had an electronic waste recycling day at work.

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