British Columbia

Cellphone recycling program starts in B.C.

British Columbia has joined a national program to recycle cellphones.

British Columbia has joined a national program to recycle cellphones.

The internet-based program was launched in conjunction with the cellphone industry to help deal with the tens of thousands of phones disposed of across Canada every day, B.C. Environment Minister Barry Penner said.

People can visit to find out out where to take their unwanted phones.

"Within seconds of entering my postal code at, I was directed to seven drop-off locations within four kilometres of my office where I could take my old cellphone for recycling," Penner said.

The phones dropped off at more than 550 locations are sent to a recycler, where they are dismantled. The intention is to reuse as many parts of the phones as possible, Penner said.

More than 95 per cent of the materials in an average mobile device are recyclable, he said.

"This program diverts e-waste from our landfills and is consistent with the goals of our recycling regulation, which makes producers responsible for the life-cycle management of products they sell in B.C."

The program is paid for by cellphone companies such as Telus and Bell.

40,000 phones discarded daily

It's estimated that 40,000 cellphones are thrown out across Canada every day, according to the Recycling Council of B.C. Many phones are used for less than two years before they're replaced by newer models.

"The fact is, people want new devices," said former New Brunswick premier Bernard Lord, who is now CEO of the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association. "And the industry is set up to respond to that demand."

Pagers, PDAs, external aircards, headsets, chargers, batteries and other accessories are all accepted at Recycle My Cell collection sites, according the B.C. Environment Ministry.

A similar recycling program for TVs and computers was launched in B.C. in 2007.