Smartphones are toxic for finite resources
Only 8 percent of cellphones are collected to be recycled, according to research from the Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, in 2009, the last year for which data are available.
Whether smartphones are sold or recycled, anything beats tossing them. While newer smartphones contain fewer toxic chemicals, phones produced before 2010 were teeming with bromine, mercury and lead, according to a chemical analysis by iFixit.org and HealthyStuff.org, released in October 2012.
Throwing away a smartphone -- or any cellphone really -- is nearly a criminal waste of resources. And, it could be literally criminal since there are laws on the books in 25 states mandating e-waste recycling. Though the waste exists in tiny amounts in individual phones, the millions of smartphones sold annually represent hundreds of pounds of valuable metals and minerals.
Every 1 million recycled cellphones yields 35,274 pounds of copper, 772 pounds of silver, 75 pounds of gold and 33 pounds of palladium, according to the EPA.
While there is no shortage of options for recycling your old smartphone, the process of recycling is still sketchy.