Recycle cell phones this week

LAWRENCEVILLE - Recycling means eCycling, too, as in, recycle your old electronics products as well, especially cell phones.

That is the message the Environmental Protection Agency is trying to get out as part of National Cell Phone Recycling Week, a joint effort with leading cell phone manufacturers, service providers and retailers to increase the awareness and recycling rates for cell phones and personal digital assistants (PDAs).

According to the EPA, more than 100 million cell phones are discarded annually and only 10 percent of those are recycled. The government agency also indicated that most people are unaware of where cell phones can be recycled.

According to Dawn Benton, AT&T's director of corporate communications, the telecommunications giant offers two simple ways to recycle used phones.

"Wireless customers of any carrier can drop off used cell phones and accessories at any of the 2,000-plus AT&T stores across the U.S.," Benton said through a news release. "Or, they can download free shipping labels from att.com/wireless and mail them to Cell Phones for Soldiers, a charity that recycles used cell phones and uses the proceeds to buy free phone cards for troops overseas."

The Cell Phones for Soldiers program has collected more than 1 million wireless phones since July 2007.

According to Connie Wiggins of Gwinnett Clean and Beautiful, there are also other places besides AT&T stores where old cell phones can be taken for recycling.

"Residents in Gwinnett are blessed with many convenient opportunities to recycle cell phones year round," Wiggins said. "As a word of caution to consumers, we encourage residents to use reputable locations to recycle any form of electronics to ensure that the materials are all being properly handled."

Wiggins said cell phones, cell phone batteries and accessories could be recycled at retail locations for T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless, Best Buy, Staples and Office Depot. In addition to these locations, Waste Management, Collective Good, Gwinnett Battered Women's Shelter and Sprint also offer programs like AT&T's to mail in cell phones for recycling.

The EPA said that recycling cell phones reduces greenhouse gas emissions, prevents air and water pollution, conserves natural resources and reduces precious metals, copper and plastics from heading to landfills.