Don't Trash Or Stash Old Cell Phones; Recycle Them

A pile of old cell phones. The EPA urges cell phones be recycled.

During National Cell Phone Recycling Week, the EPA is working with mobile phone companies to remind Americans not to throw out their old phones. SSPL/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption SSPL/Getty Images

If you have an old cell phone stashed in a closet or rattling around in your desk drawer, the Environmental Protection Agency hopes you won't just toss it in the trash.

Each year, Americans discard 130 million cell phones.

As part of National Cell Phone Recycling Week, the agency is working with mobile phone companies to encourage people to recycle their phones.

A Sprint video on YouTube uses ridicule and humor to urge people to recycle their cell phones. It compares throwing away a cell phone to keeping the refrigerator door open to cool down the house.

Other companies are trying a softer approach. Samsung is having a sweepstakes for schools and providing teaching materials about recycling.

"We're targeting schools because we think that's where the passion point is," says Kim Titus, a representative of Samsung Telecommunications America. "This is the group that really will get excited about holding drives to recycle phones."

The winning school will get a private concert with rock group Hey Monday. Others will win cash.

Samsung hopes to bring in a million phones. The EPA says recycling those phones would reap 75 pounds of gold, 772 pounds of silver and 35,274 pounds of copper. It also would save energy and cut water and air pollution, including greenhouse gases.

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