Samsung Reclaim: nice idea, but who recycles phones?

New Samsung mobile phone reveals poor consumer attitude towards recycling

Sprint's US launch of the new Samsung Reclaim, an environmentally friendly smartphone that's 80-percent recyclable, is getting plenty of media buzz. And while the Reclaim is a step in the right direction, there's a less impressive statistic you should know about: Just 1 out of 10 mobile phones is recycled.

When it comes to cell phones, consumers just don't act green, says the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which is working with wireless providers and handset makers to improve the situation. From the EPA site:

"EPA has targeted cell phone recycling because only 10 percent of cell phones are recycled each year and most people do not know where to recycle them."

The agency is currently conducting a year-long campaign, Plug-In To eCycling, with major players in the wireless industry, including AT&T, Best Buy, LG Electronics, Motorola, Nokia, Office Depot, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, Sprint, Staples, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless. The partners have pledged to educate consumers on how and where to recycle phones, and to work with communities to hold phone-collection events.

Where's Your Old Phone?

Are consumers unsure of how to recycle their old handsets, or is it simply easier not to? After all, cell phones are tiny. After buying a new phone, it's all too easy to stash the old device in a desk drawer and forget about it.

A phone in a desk drawer isn't an environmental threat. The trouble begins when people toss their old handsets in the trash, which invariably wind up in a landfill. It's there that the phones' toxic cocktail of hazardous materials are dangerous.

Green activists have long derided the mobile phone as an environmental time bomb. Recycling these devices keeps dangerous materials out of landfills and incinerators. It also reduces greenhouse gas emissions. The EPA estimates that recycling all of the 100 million mobile phones in the U.S. that have reached the end of their lives would save enough energy to power more than 18,500 U.S. households with electricity for one year.

The wireless industry needs to do more to encourage recycling. Outreach programs like the EPA's Plug-In To eCycling are a good start, but greater incentives are needed. Why not pay cash for old phones? Think of it as a Cash for Clunkers program for the handset crowd.

To its credit, Sprint appears serious about boosting the rate of phone recycling. CEO Dan Hesse says his company hopes to recycle 90 percent of wireless devices by 2017.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags samsungrecyclingenvironment

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jeff Bertolucci

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?