What You Can Do

Fun Facts

Nearly half of mobile consumers surveyed by ABI Research in 2009 said they are somewhat likely or very likely to be influenced by suppliers' green credentials when purchasing services or devices.

Consumer FAQs

Q: Is my device recyclable? What about the charger (or ear buds, Bluetooth, batteries, etc)?
All wireless devices and their accessories are recyclable, regardless of age or condition. Personal digital assistants (PDAs) and tablets, wireless computer cards and accessories such as batteries, phone chargers, cables, headsets, earpieces, cases, clips and cradles are recyclable. Learn how to donate your devices and accessories through CTIA members' consumer recycling programs.

Q: I have a really old wireless device. Can I still recycle it?
Absolutely. All devices and accessories are recyclable. Here's a list of our members' consumer recycling programs.

Q: How do I recycle my device and accessories?
Many wireless providers offer programs so you can drop-off your "old" wireless devices and accessories at their retail stores, even if you didn't purchase it from that carrier. There are a variety of options from carrier- and manufacturer-sponsored initiatives to third party organizations, including drop-off or mail back programs, websites and charity drives. Learn how to donate your devices and accessories through CTIA's members' consumer recycling programs.

Q: Is there anything I should I do with my wireless device before I recycle it?
CTIA and the wireless industry encourage you to erase your personal information from your device before you recycle it. Here are four simple tips to do that safely:

  1. Preserve the contacts, photos, texts or other data you want to keep.  
  2. Terminate your device's wireless service by contacting your provider.
  3. Use device-specific instructions to clear the device's memory of stored information.
  4. Remove the SIM card (found in some GSM or 4G devices). If you're unsure if your device has one, contact your provider for more information. 

Q: Where can I drop-off or who should I mail my wireless device and accessories for recycling? CTIA's wireless service provider members and many resellers have return or collection programs at their retail stores, even if you didn't purchase the items from them. Local governments and communities also organize periodic collection events for used consumer electronics. Learn how to donate your devices and accessories through CTIA's members' consumer recycling programs.

Q: What happens to the materials that are recycled?
While some consumers relegate their "old" devices to the kitchen drawers, most are aware that their devices and accessories can have a "second life" when it's reused, refurbished or recycled. By returning "old" devices to a wireless carrier, reseller or other authorized companies, consumers and the wireless industry are helping the environment by reducing e-waste, and preventing the unnecessary use of valuable resources. For more information on what happens once a used device and accessories is returned, please visit CTIA's recycling and e-waste section.

Q: Are wireless devices designed in an environmentally responsible way?
Wireless manufacturers are incorporating a variety of environmentally-sensitive practices into the development and production of new devices and accessories. Some examples include carbon neutral phones and solar-powered handsets and chargers. More products are made using recycled and recyclable materials, such as biopaints and bioplastics that are made from vegetable oil, not crude oil. In addition, manufacturers have eliminated or greatly reduced the use of hazardous substances such as brominated flame retardants (BFRs), polyvinyl chloride (PVC), lead and cadmimum. While new devices continue to be more powerful than ever, many require less energy to operate and employ smarter charging features. Find out how wireless manufacturers are developing more environmentally-friendly devices and packaging.

Q: Why do I have to have a new charger with each device? Will I ever have one charger that works for all devices?
As of January 1, 2012, most of the new smartphones in the U.S. will have a “one-charger-fits-all” solution. The UCS will provide an estimated 50 percent reduction in standby energy consumption by utilizing the micro-USB format as the common universal charging interface and use energy-efficient chargers that meet U.S. “Energy Star” requirements for external power adapters. Developed by the Open Mobile Terminal Platform industry standards group and adopted by GSMA, the UCS will use the Micro-USB format as the common universal charging interface and use energy efficient chargers in compliance with the U.S. "Energy Star" requirements for external power adapters. In addition, CTIA supports simplifying the input/output features for new wireless devices introduced to the market after January 2012 as a way to streamline and reduce the number of audio and data connectors for mobile devices.