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Mobile phone redemption: Make responsible disposal part of new purchases

Can't forget mobile phones in the ramp-up to America Recycles Day.Nokia weighs in with these fun facts, some of which I've kinda reported before but that bear repeating:- Less than 10 percent of Americans recycle their mobile devices (notice that doesn't cover just phones).
Written by Heather Clancy, Contributor on

Can't forget mobile phones in the ramp-up to America Recycles Day.

Nokia weighs in with these fun facts, some of which I've kinda reported before but that bear repeating: - Less than 10 percent of Americans recycle their mobile devices (notice that doesn't cover just phones). - If every individual who owned a mobile phone (3 billion) brought just one back, it would save up to 240,000 tons of raw materials. - And, my personal fave, there's enough gold in 200 Nokia cell phones to make one gold ring. (Don't want to give anyone any ideas, though.)

Nokia's angle is that it offers free recycling for mobile phones, plus it uses recycled materials in some of its products and concept devices. Here's more information on the national recycling program, plus the company is planning an event on Saturday to coincide with America Recycles Day in Carson, Calif., at the Home Depot Center.

So, I'm wondering what would happen if all the mobile phone makers made it a policy to collect and responsibly dispose of a new handheld phone or device when they let you buy a new one?

One of the wireless / mobile management services companies, Rivermine, has actually started a program with ReCellular that's somewhat along these lines. Basically, Rivermine will handle securely wiping data off old devices and recycling or refurbishing the devices through ReCellular. Because it's in the business of managing mobile devices anyway, Rivermine can provide an audit trail for anything it has collected. Here's another fun stat from these companies: More than half of the 4 million phones collected by ReCellular last year were actually reconditioned and reused.

Another company worth keeping an eye on will be Flipswap, which just snagged another $14 million in Series B venture funding today from NGEN Partners and RRE Ventures.

The company offers a mobile phone trade-in program through retailers (roughly 6,000 locations in North America) as well as Amazon.com, Newegg.com and Wirefly.com. Flipswap figures that its efforts last year kept about 50 tons of solid waste out of U.S. landfills. By its estimates, the average replacement cycle on a mobile device is from six months to 18 months long. Roughly 150 million new mobile phones enter the market per year in the United States alone.

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