E-cycling cell phones benefits Arc of Maui


The cell phone donation box in Kumu Kapulani Antonio’s classroom has a few cell phones ready to be picked up. Funds raised from the recycling program benefit the Arc of Maui, which organizes programs that benefit the mentally ill.

By Amanda Lee, News co-editor

Recycling has spanned beyond the average soda can and used newspaper. In an effort to save the environment, cell phones are also being recycled.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, about 14 million Americans recycled their cellphones in 2007.

“Recycling cell phones helps the environment by saving energy and keeping usable materials out of landfills. Cell phones and PDAs are made of precious metals, copper, and plastics-all of which require energy to mine and manufacture. Recycling conserves these materials so they can be turned into new products,” according to the EPA Web site.

Recycling an old phone not only helps to prolong the life of landfills, but it also pays to be environmentally friendly! Phone recycling companies will pay for the phones. The amount depends on which recycling center handles the transaction.

Kamehameha Maui has been a part of this trend for three years now.  Kumu Kapulani Antonio has hosted a cell phone drop-off station in her classroom since 2009. The proceeds from the recycling effort go to the Arc of Maui, a nonprofit agency dedicated to improving the lives of Maui residents with mentally disabilities.

“Three years ago I was on [the] leadership team with Dr. [Warren] Hitz, and he asked if anyone wanted to do it [host the cell phone collection for the Arc of Maui],” she said.

Ever since she said yes, Kumu Kapulani has been hosting the collection and encouraging students and staff to participate by donating their old or unusable cell phones. Phones of any age and in any condition are welcome–working or not.

The recycling of the actual phones is done for the Arc of Maui by a company called GRC Recycling. According to their Web site, they have a zero landfill policy. They pledge to keep every part of the phones out of solid waste landfills, avoid any e-cycling activity in developing countries, and recycle and dispose of batteries in strict accordance with EPA guidelines.

They refrubish approximately 60% of the usable cell phones that are donated and sell them to “wireless markets worldwide in need of affordable communication.”

The approximately 40% of cell phones that do not have resale value are “shredded and smelted at our copper refiner, and various metals are ‘reclaimed’ back to their natural state. This process [is] often referred to as ‘above ground mining’…,” according to their Web site.

After the recycled cell phones have been processed, the Arc of Maui receives a payment, which they use to help fund their programs that benefit the mentally ill.

The Arc of Maui picks up donations twice a year, so any time is a good time to donate an old phone. If you do, you’ll be keeping it out of the landfill and helping support the Arc of Maui.