Photo via rhonogle via Flickr CC
It's no surprise that economic slumps tend to be good news for sustainability. People do more with less - consume less stuff, make what they have last longer, buy recycled and used... And such is the case with cell phones, according to the latest survey of recycled phones from ReCellular. While the usual statistic is that Americans upgrade to a new cell phone every 14 to 18 months, it seems we're (finally) waiting longer.
Live Science reports, "ReCellular, one of the world's largest cell phone recyclers, collected about 5 million cell phones from consumers in the United States and Canada in 2009.
That is about 1 million fewer than last year, said ReCellular spokesperson Michael Newman."
Newman attributes this drop to the economic slump, guessing that people are electing to save money and wait longer to upgrade to new phones. However, if we're taking guesses, we could also guess that perhaps more people are electing to sell their own phones, or give them to charities, rather than send them in to Recellular. However, when the number is lower by 1 million phones, chances are Newman is right - people are simply keeping their phones a bit longer.
At least, we really hope this is the case, since one other possible explanation is (gulp) that people aren't recycling them as much as they were before. We just heard that consumers want rewards for recycling their cell phones, or they tend to skip it, so we really hope this isn't the case.
Considering the emphasis put on recycling and reusing cell phones that we've seen this year, from sites like Last Year's Model to new (and very neat) kiosks going up in electronics stores, we're guessing that it's not recycling rates that are dropping.
It was around this time last year that we saw cell phone sales slump. And while there are a lot of tempting phones coming out now and in the very near future, we suspect - and greatly hope - that the consumer trend of keeping current cell phones longer than 2 years will hold out.
But more good news from ReCelluar's survey is this, "ReCellular resells about 60 percent of the phones they receive and recycle the rest for their metals. Many of the recycled cell phones from North America find their way to developing countries around the world." Reusing is greener than recycling, and with the myriad mobile phone projects globally, seeing perfectly good cell phones put to use is encouraging.