This article was published in the February/March 2006 Wedge newsletter. The following information may be outdated.

Cell Phone Facts

  • Cell phones are usually replaced after 18 months of use.
  • Nearly 130 million cell phones have been discarded every year in the United States alone.
  • Estimates suggest that 500 million more cell phones are stored away by people who do not know where to dispose of them; adding to an already severe situation.
  • Cell phones contain toxic chemicals such as:
    • arsenic (used in some semiconductors)
    • brominated compounds (used as flame retardants)
    • lead (used in the solder that attaches components to circuit boards)



  • Cell Phone Facts

    • Cell phones are usually replaced after 18 months of use.
    • Nearly 130 million cell phones have been discarded every year in the United States alone.
    • Estimates suggest that 500 million more cell phones are stored away by people who do not know where to dispose of them; adding to an already severe situation.
    • Cell phones contain toxic chemicals such as:
      • arsenic (used in some semiconductors)
      • brominated compounds (used as flame retardants)
      • lead (used in the solder that attaches components to circuit boards)
    • These chemicals are released into the environment through rainwater out of landfills or by incinerators.
    • These chemicals are said to contribute to adverse health conditions such as:
      • Damage to the nervous system
      • Reproductive and developmental problems
      • Cancer
    • Recycling reduces the amount of cell phones from entering landfills and incinerators while also reducing the need for open-pit mining which produces:
      • gold,
      • copper
      • and other materials used in cell phone manufacturing
    • 230 grams of gold can be recovered from one ton of old cell phones, yet 1 ton of mining waste only generates 62 grams of gold. If the estimated 130 million cell phones discarded every year were recycled, the phones would yield about 202,000 ounces of gold, keeping approximately 65,000 tons of toxic waste from landfills and incinerators.

    Recycle Cell Phones at the Wedge!

    Have an old cell phone you no longer use? If so, you'll be excited to hear about our new promotion to recycle used cell phones and raise money for Special Olympics Minnesota athletes! Each year 130 million cell phones are discarded by American consumers and contribute to the growing volume of toxic electronics in U.S. landfills. Recycling used cell phones not only helps to protect the environment, but can raise funds for athletes with intellectual disabilities. For each cell phone recycled through this nationwide program, Special Olympics will receive from $1 to $100, depending on the model. Contributing is fast and easy! Just look for the drop box at the Customer Service Desk. After you mail in your phone, Special Olympics will receive the contribution, and the phone may be refurbished for reuse. For more information, or if you would like to host your own collection, please visit www.specialolympics.org/recycle and register online.

  • These chemicals are released into the environment through rainwater out of landfills or by incinerators.
  • These chemicals are said to contribute to adverse health conditions such as:
    • Damage to the nervous system
    • Reproductive and developmental problems
    • Cancer
  • Recycling reduces the amount of cell phones from entering landfills and incinerators while also reducing the need for open-pit mining which produces:
    • gold,
    • copper
    • and other materials used in cell phone manufacturing
  • 230 grams of gold can be recovered from one ton of old cell phones, yet 1 ton of mining waste only generates 62 grams of gold. If the estimated 130 million cell phones discarded every year were recycled, the phones would yield about 202,000 ounces of gold, keeping approximately 65,000 tons of toxic waste from landfills and incinerators.

Recycle Cell Phones at the Wedge!

Have an old cell phone you no longer use? If so, you'll be excited to hear about our new promotion to recycle used cell phones and raise money for Special Olympics Minnesota athletes! Each year 130 million cell phones are discarded by American consumers and contribute to the growing volume of toxic electronics in U.S. landfills. Recycling used cell phones not only helps to protect the environment, but can raise funds for athletes with intellectual disabilities. For each cell phone recycled through this nationwide program, Special Olympics will receive from $1 to $100, depending on the model. Contributing is fast and easy! Just look for the drop box at the Customer Service Desk. After you mail in your phone, Special Olympics will receive the contribution, and the phone may be refurbished for reuse. For more information, or if you would like to host your own collection, please visit www.specialolympics.org/recycle and register online.