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Poll reveals hang-ups to recycling old cell phones

By: Catherine Kavanaugh

September 11, 2013

A new poll finds nearly 60 percent of people who don’t recycle old cell phones either don’t know where to take them or don’t trust that personal data will be destroyed.

The results of the online survey were released at the annual E-Scrap Conference being held this week in Orlando, Fla.

The poll was conducted by Earth911 for the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) from June 30 to Sept. 9.

ISRI President Robin Wiener stressed the importance of recycling old cell phones.

“The results of this poll fall in line with the recent report by the U.S. International Trade Commission indicating that only 25 percent of all household used electronics products are recycled,” Wiener said in a statement.

The poll question asked: What is the main reason you haven’t recycled your old cell phone(s)? Of the 923 respondents, 30 percent said they don’t where to take it for recycling, 29 percent are worried about the safety of personal information, 21 percent said they might need it later, and 20 percent said they just never get around to it.

Wiener urges reluctant recyclers to find a certified electronics recycler, saying that “guarantees that all personal data in the phone will be destroyed and gives the phone a second life either through the recovery of scrap commodities or refurbishment and use by those in this country or abroad who might not otherwise have access to such technology.”

For every million cell phones, 35,274 pounds of copper, 772 pounds of silver, 75 pounds of gold and 33 pounds of palladium can be recovered and reused, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.