You may be wondering what really happens after you donate cell phones. Every cell phone is different, and the processes for disposal vary. The age, wear, and type of phone determines whether the phone will be reused or recycled.
Phones that can be reused are usually newer models that need less work to get them into good condition. Things like cracked screens, chipped casing, and broken cameras are examples of damage that can be repaired. If the body of the phone is sound, internal components can be swapped out for reuse. No word on if your cartoon decals or custom button stickers remain affixed for the next user.
Whether your phone met an untimely end or faded away in a dignified digital fashion, unusable cell phones still have value. If your phone is not completely mangled, individual parts may be sold to be used in more phones or other electronic devices. A cell phone that had an unfortunate encounter with a steamroller will most likely be broken down to be mined for trace metals. Phones contain small amounts of gold, silver, and nickel that can be used for many things, such as jewelry and electronics. Approximately 62% of donated and collected phones are recycled for parts, rather than being refurbished for continued use. (http://www.epa.gov/osw/conserve/materials/ecycling/faq.htm#cellmanage)
When you donate cell phones it is a great way to make a difference in the lives of others and the planet. At SecondWave Recycling, we take the environment seriously, and guarantee that all of our recycling partners are R2 Solutions or e-Stewards certified (http://www.epa.gov/wastes/conserve/materials/ecycling/certification.htm). To learn more about donated and recycled cell phones, please contact us; we love to spread the word!