Americans Junk Millions of Used Cellphones

Handsets are perhaps the easiest gadget to recycle, but they still get tossed in the trash.

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Sites like list recyclers.
Sites like list recyclers.

Only about 40 percent of Americans recycle or repurpose their old cellphones, according to a new survey. That might be discouraging news to anyone who wants to keep our growing pile of electronics junk out of landfills. How can we hope to get other gadgets recycled that are heavier and more difficult to handle than cellphones, perhaps the easiest of electronics to keep out of the trash?

Most wireless carriers will take old handsets. Charities will pay for shipping to get the phones. Recycling bins for used cellphones are often available at libraries, schools, and malls.

Nonetheless, 10 percent of us chuck millions of handsets and their toxic waste into the trash, according to the survey from market tracker iSuppli. More than 35 percent shove them into a drawer, where they're no good to anyone. "All too often, those handsets end up in the trash when spring cleaning comes," says iSuppli's Greg Sheppard.