Sprint gains from recycling, reusing smartphones

Sprint gains from recycling, reusing smartphones

By Editorial Staff, E-Scrap News

Nov. 14, 2013

When it comes to recycling and reusing old smartphones, Sprint, at least for now, appears to be at the head of the class.

According to an informal study carried out by The Guardian's Jennifer Inez Ward, Sprint's collection rate of old smartphones reached 44 percent in 2012. In comparison, AT&T's smartphone collection rate was calculated at 11.5 percent and Verizon reported recycling 28 percent of all electronic devices without offering a more specific figure for smartphones. T-Mobile, the other major carrier contacted for the study, didn't respond to The Guardian's requests.

While services vary only slightly between carriers – all offer buy-back and recycling services – Sprint has managed to take full advantage of the financial incentives in reusing and recycling old phones. Despite paying out more than $100 million for old devices in 2012, the company reportedly saved $1 billion in costs through its trade-in program alone.

According to Sprint, roughly 90 percent of traded-in phones are resold to competing markets around the globe, with the remaining 10 percent sent for recycling.

"We talk about reuse, frankly, more than we talk about recycling," Sprint spokesperson Marci Verbrugge-Rhind told The Guardian. "It's been far more about how can we reuse the device going forward, or 'what is the phone's second life?'"

Sprint has a goal of achieving a 90 percent smartphone collection rate by 2017. The U.S. EPA estimates that just 11 percent of all smartphones and tablets are currently recycled or reused.

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