It’s the holidays again, and though I can’t promise that your corporate Santa will be stuffing your stocking with new cell phones and PDAs, I can guarantee that a few thousand people across the globe will spend the end of 2004 giddy over new gadgets, ahem…I mean Business Tools.
In light of this (and every wave of new gadget glory), I’d like to use my small soapbox here to talk about what to do with last year’s phones, PDAs and any devices using Nickel Cadmium, Nickel Metal Hydride, Lithium Ion and Small Sealed Lead rechargeable batteries. Recycle them.
Recycling has become fashionable at last, even if you still can’t get your office to comply with the government regulations making it illegal not to recycle, but mixed paper and coke cans aren’t the only objects to sort out of the trash. Much of our gear (even regular non-rechargeable batteries) contains hazardous material that needs to be disposed of properly, not just left on the curb, and even though a model may be outdated, often parts can be reused. And scores of organizations exist to take these materials off our hands and keep them out of our landfills and water supplies, but like any issue, public awareness is key.
For beginners the Cellular Telecommunications International Association (CTIA) began a program in October of 2003 called Wireless…the new Recyclable, to promote the environmentally sound recycling of used wireless products. RecycleWirelessPhones.com, the official Web site of the initiative says this, “Today, there are more than 80 million wireless phones sold in North America each year. The stockpile of retired wireless devices is growing and the wireless industry recognizes that now is the time to focus public attention on options for properly recycling used wireless devices.”
Luckily, the site goes beyond intention to list 12 organizations and programs that can help with the disposal of used devices. The list varies from CTIA’s own Donate a Phone program, to individual carrier programs like AT&T Wireless Reuse & Recycle program, or handset manufacturers such as Sony Ericsson, who can point its customers in the appropriate direction. Other third party programs like ReCellular www.wirelessrecycling.com, an organization that resells, refurbishes and recycles cell phones, and the Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation (RBRC) (http://www.rbrc.org) are also listed there. These programs vary from citywide drop boxes to charitable organizations that will happily trade you a tax-deductible receipt for your old phone. I recommend starting at RBRC’s site, they have a handy location finder. When I punched in my Manhattan zip, over a hundred locations were returned.
So the next time you find yourself getting acquainted with a new toy, remember to take more than the numbers off your old phone.