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Environmental Protection & Preservation

245 Million Chances to Recycle on America Recycles Day

245 million tons - that's the amount of garbage Americans consign to landfills every year. For America Recycles Day, November 15, please take a moment to think of ways to decrease your own landfill contributions.

The good news is recycling programs are working, with almost half of all paper products and aluminum cans reclaimed every year. Unfortunately, only a small fraction of technology products are reused. As an example, a meager two percent of the 130 million cell phones replaced every year are recycled.

The cause, according to the Consumer Electronics Association, is that three-quarters of Americans are not aware of recycling options. In addition, the shrinking size and price of new wireless phones has created a misperception that they are a "disposable" technology.

As result, the vast majority of phones are temporarily stashed in junk drawers and storage closets before ultimately being discarded - contributing a staggering 13,750 tons of unused cell phones to landfills every year.

Many of these phones are still functional, and could be reused by other mobile phone subscribers. Those that aren't functional contain valuable materials that can be reclaimed, reducing the need for new sources of gold, platinum, nickel and plastics.

To raise awareness for cell phone recycling, Keep America Beautiful is holding a nationwide recycling campaign to "Wipe Out Wireless Waste." Our goal is to collect and recycle 100,000 pounds of wireless handsets, batteries and accessories.

Please help support our mission by donating your phones to a Keep America Beautiful affiliate in your community, or by downloading a prepaid mailing label at

About half of the phones collected from this program will be refurbished and reused - the ultimate form of recycling. The remaining equipment will be smelted down at a facility regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency to reclaim valuable materials, including precious metals from circuit boards, heavy metals from batteries and plastic from cases and accessories.

Proceeds from the collections will benefit Keep America Beautiful affiliate programs across the US, including litter clean-ups on public lands and waterways, additional recycling events, tree and flower plantings, educational workshops, vacant lot restorations and a diversity of hands-on stewardship projects.

At Keep America Beautiful, we believe that each of us holds an obligation to preserve and protect our environment. Through our everyday choices and actions, we collectively have a huge impact on our world. It's really a simple concept, but one with far reaching effects.

So, please, answer the call to action on America Recycles Day and recycle your newspaper, aluminum cans, plastic containers ... and your cell phones.

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