Phone recycling has become so easy, convenient and, in some instances, profitable, there's really no reason not to do it.

Please allow us to demonstrate. You're sitting at a computer, right? You can download a free, postage-paid label (PDF) from Verizon or AT&T, stick it on a package (containing your old cell phone, of course) and drop the whole shebang in the mail. Done and done.

Don't have a printer? LG Electronics says you can text the word ECO to 95173, reply to LG's responding text with a mailing address and a pre-paid package will be delivered to your doorstep.

If doing things the easy way isn't your thing, Verizon also allows customers to drop off their old cell phones, batteries and accessories at its retail stores.  

Similarly, AT&T, BestBuy, Sprint and T-Mobile also allow customers to drop off their old cell phones at retail locations.

Now is great time to be thinking about recycling your cell phone. After all, the week of April 5 through April 11, 2010, is the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's second annual National Cell Phone Recycling Week.

The EPA says that last year Americans turned in 11.7 million cell phones for recycling. To help recover even more this year, the agency's Web site has several suggestions for how you can recycle your phone.

Here are a few options:

  • In addition to sending a text message, LG Electronics allows you to print postage paid labels online or request a free, pre-paid packing envelope by filling out a form on the company Web site. 
  • RecycleBank is a program in which consumers can sign up to receive points for taking environmentally responsible actions — like recycling your cell phone — and redeem those points at more than 2,400 retailers. Every device earns at least 10 points. An Apple iPhone 3G can be worth as much as 12,000 points.
  • Concerned about your old data? AT&T has information on its Web site about how to erase data from a cell phone. In addition, the company will send you a free, postage-paid envelope for recycling a cell phone if you fill out a form on the site.
Why recycle cell phones?

Cell phones contain precious metals such as gold, silver and palladium as well as copper and plastic. The EPA says that recycling cell phones conserves these materials and helps reduce the amount of greenhouse gases produced during the manufacturing process.

The government agency goes on to say that for every 1 million cell phones collected, recyclers can recover 75 pounds of gold, 772 pounds of silver, 33 pounds of palladium and 35,274 pounds of copper.

Cell phone users opt to recycle only a fraction of the time. According to the EPA, only 10 percent of the 130 cell phones disposed of each year are recycled.

More cell phone recycling resources

AT&T Reuse & Recycle Cell Phones

Best Buy Recycle Cell Phones

RecycleBank electronics

Sprint's wireless recycling program

T-Mobile recycling program

Verizon's cell phone recycling program

See also:

Eco-friendly phones