How to recycle your old cell phones

Make sure to recycle old cell phones!

Did you know that you can recycle old cell phones and have a charity benefit from your efforts?

Cell phones contain trace metals such as copper, gold and lead. Tossing old phones into the garbage could result in these materials being lost forever — rather than being reused. Companies exist, such as Japan’s Dowa Holdings, that can extract these materials from old phones — they crush old phones and melt them down, then extract the metals for reuse.

Some major cell phone vendors, such as Motorola and T-Mobile have recently launched efforts to increase recycling of older phones as well.

In addition to extracting metals from the handsets, there are also recyclers that focus on reselling the old phones to new users. One of these companies, RMS Communications Group, Inc., operates the website and will send you a check for your old cell phone. Here’s their page for old Motorola phones — the prices as I write this vary from $4 for older phones up to $50-60 for new models.

This may be the best option for recyclers because these phones are reused — meaning they keep someone somewhere from buying a new cell phone, which has a further impact on reducing waste.

Another option is to donate your cell phone to charity. There are organizations set up to take your old cell phone and donate proceeds from recycling it to charity. Three of these are, GRC Recycling, and ReCellular (which runs the site Another site even provides free shipping by allowing you to print a postage-paid label [PDF].

The sites above not only allow you to send your phone in as a donation, they also provide ways to organize fundraisers for schools or other groups. Running a fundraiser based on recycling old phones would be a great way to raise money as well as increase awareness of environmental issues in your community.

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