Despite being the No. 3 wireless carrier in the United States, Sprint leads the industry in phone recycling. Last year, Sprint reclaimed 4.4 million phones through voluntary collection programs — compared to AT&T’s 3.1 million and Verizon’s 3 million — and in September, Guinness World Records recognized Sprint for shattering the record for the number of cellular phones recycled in one week: 103,582 cellular phones, more than double the previous record.
Sprint continues to highlight the environmental benefits of phone recycling and to raise awareness around the financial benefits of its phone trade-in program, where customers can receive up to a $300 credit as part of the Sprint Buyback Program. Tomorrow, on America Recycles Day, Sprint will offer new and existing customers a minimum account credit of $20 for any phone traded in — in any condition, regardless of carrier — in select Sprint stores in San Antonio, Houston, Los Angeles and New York.
According to the EPA, 135 million mobile devices are discarded every year, with many ending up in junk drawers or landfills. It’s estimated that a paltry 10 percent of mobile devices ready for end-of-life management in the United States are recycled. In 2001, Sprint recognized the trend and initiated the Sprint Buyback program to help solve the growing threat of electronic waste. Since then, Sprint has reclaimed more than 50 million mobile devices, putting more than $100 million back in customers’ pockets last year alone. That equals approximately 13.8 million pounds of e-waste, the fastest growing waste stream in the U.S.
“The Sprint Buyback Program is an important program for customers, that also just happens to benefit our business,” said Kendra Wright, who leads Sprint’s phone recycling operations. “We look beyond just the recycling, or dismantling of a phone, but instead focus on remanufacturing and giving that phone a second life. By collecting and reusing millions of devices a year, we spend less buying new devices.”
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Sprint is the first and only U.S. wireless carrier to outline specific commitments that address e-waste holistically. By offering certified pre-owned phones to customers at a fraction of the price Sprint says nine of every 10 devices that come back through its Buyback program get reused, not just recycled. The last 10 percent of phones that are “recycled” are broken into parts that can be recycled as raw materials for a surprising number of goods, from jewelry to battery packs to car parts.
Sprint’s Electronics Stewardship Policy focuses on the full life cycle of the electronics that Sprint buys and sells. The policy publicly states that Sprint will strive to design and buy more sustainable electronics, extend the useful life of equipment, boost the collection of used equipment, maximize the reuse of electronics, and responsibly recycle the rest through third-party certified vendors.
Also in honor of America Recycles Day, Keep America Beautiful is providing a variety of resources, action steps and supporting activities encouraging people across the country to give their garbage another life.