Recycling Cell Phones Makes Financial Sense

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Last updated April 12, 2019

To people who throw away their old cell phones when they get a new one, that cell phone is just junk.  But, to others, they’ve just thrown away a valuable commodity.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the refurbished cell phone market is growing enough that within a few years, it could make up as much as one fifth of the US cell phone market.  That’s in a fairly phone-forward country.  In emerging markets like Africa and Latin America, refurbished cell phones make up a much bigger part of the market.  Many people in those economies rely on our recycling cell phones – we make it possible for them to have higher-end cell phones than otherwise possible.  In some cases, our recycling cells make it possible for them to have a phone period.

In an article I read this morning, a popular US cell phone recycler said that it recycled or resold 5.2 million handsets last year.  60 per cent of those went to US customers; the rest went abroad.  The company also predicts that 2011 will see an over 50 percent increase in their revenue.  That’s good for the company; but it is also good for us.

For one, those recycled/refurbished phones represent millions of pounds of toxic solid waste that did not end up in a landfill. For another, it means that more of us are taking advantage of the demand by selling our phones for cash – cash which can be used for a variety of things, including towards the purchase of a new (or higher-end refurbished) cell phone.