Phones for the Planet is a circular economy initiative to reduce toxic e-waste, help protect critical habitat for animals, decrease the production of unnecessary new electronic devices, and bridge the digital divide.
- The mining of key smartphone minerals is associated with poor labor conditions, human rights abuses, and environmental degradation.
- Develop the pipeline for device repair, refurbishing, and resale.
- Reduce the demand for key minerals, often mined in problematic ways.
- Reduce the improper disposal of unwanted devices.
- Bridget the digital divide for young learners.
- We partner with schools and community groups in the U.S. to initiate “Phones for the Planet” drives to collect unwanted devices.
- We partner with businesses that identify flourishing markets for used devices, extending their life-span and reducing future demand.
- We donate devices to underserved schools and communities to be used to support 21st century learning.
- Proceeds from the program help us train thousands of environmental leaders to drive change across nearly 100 countries each year.
Steps for starting your own cell phone collection drive:
Register below. Once registered, we’ll reach out with materials, assistance, and motivation when you need it.
Design a collection box, distribute flyers, or create social media posts to promote your conservation efforts. See below for downloadable printables.
When your box is filled, send us the box weight and return address. We will provide a free shipping label to send phones directly to us for recycling.
We accept cell phones, smart phones, iPads, iPods, tablets, and smart watches. We are not able to accept other electronic devices and accessories at this time.
- Many discarded phones are still functional, but end up out of circulation.
- There are currently half a billion phones ready for recycling in the U.S. alone and more than 1.2 billion phones are manufactured each year.
- Smartphones contain toxic materials such as mercury, lead, beryllium, arsenic and cadmium. If improperly disposed of, these toxins can leak into our natural environment and have harmful effects.
- Young learners, especially in developing countries lack devices which can bridge the digital divide and connect them to lifelong learning end economic opportunities.
Is there a weight or size restriction for the boxes?
Boxes shouldn’t exceed 50 pounds in shipping weight. The best box dimensions are between 12″x12″x12″ and 18″x18″x18″. Stores such as Office Depot and Staples typically stock these boxes. Check with your nearby outlet for more details.
Which gadgets can be recycled?Our partners can help us reuse or recycle cell phones, smart watches, iPads, iPods, and tablets.
In what state should my gadgets be for recycling?
Any device condition is acceptable. Whether it’s a bulky phone or one with a shattered screen that’s defunct, we’re set to recycle it.
Can I include my laptop in this drive?
Items like desktops, screens, laptops, gaming consoles, TVs, and calculators aren’t part of this initiative. Yet, these also have critical minerals like coltan, so recycling them is crucial.
In most cities, you can look for “Household Hazardous Waste” events or “Special Collection” home pickups. Retailers like Apple, Best Buy, and Staples might offer recycling for these. Confirm with your local branch.
Are there any pre-recycling measures for my devices?
Ensure you’ve backed up your essential data, returned the device to factory settings, and taken off any cases or screen guards before recycling.
-For Apple devices please turn off “FMI” Find my iPhone, remove iCloud account, and remove screen lock password.
-For Android users please log out of all Google and Samsung accounts before recycling then remove any screen lock password.
Do you wipe the data off my phone?
We do not wipe data from your phone and request that you ensure that your device’s data is deleted before recycling it. See here for instructions from Apple (iOS phones) and here for instructions from Google (Android phones) on how to wipe your phone’s data.