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Gina-Marie Cheeseman headshot

4 Out of 10 Sprint Store Visitors Recycle a Phone

Sprint celebrated America Recycles Day on November 15 by promoting their Buyback program. Developed in 2001, Sprint's Buyback program is the first one where a U.S. wireless carrier provides instant credit at the point of sale, and allows customers to bring back any phone from any carrier. Customers who participate in cell phone recycling and trade can earn up to $300 in credit. Sprint promoted the Buyback program in several ways, including at the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race in Phoenix. Sprint also hosted a recycling event at one of its downtown Chicago stores. Customers who recycled a phone were able to meet five-time NBA champion Bill Cartwright and received a free Chicago Transit Authority Fun Pass good for one day of unlimited rides. In addition, Sprint launched a phone recycling pledge which features five rewards cards worth $500 that customers can win (through November 30), and posted a video online about the program. "Electronic waste continues to be the largest growing waste stream in the country," Sprint proclaimed in a press release. In 2011, manufacturers produced over 1.68 billion wireless phones globally, and in the U.S., less than 10 percent of discarded cell phones are estimated to be recycled. However, an average of four out of every 10 customers who visit a Sprint store participates in the Buyback program. Sprint's Buyback program has economic and environmental benefits. The program resulted in over $75 million "going back into customers' pockets just this year," and helped the company avoid over $1 billion in costs. Through the program, Sprint has collected over 40 million devices since 2001, representing over 4,000 metric tons of electronic waste.
"You can’t be in our industry, put the amount of product into the market that we do, and not think through the full lifecycle," said Fared Adib, senior vice president of product development and reverse logistics. "We’re proud that we’ve been recognized as having the industry’s leading buyback program despite our No. 3 position in the market – and we believe these efforts will contribute to Sprint’s long-term success."

Other top cell phone carriers have buyback or trade-in programs

What about other U.S. cell phone carriers? All the other top carriers have buyback or trade-in programs. AT&T, the top carrier, has a Trade In Program which allows customers to bring in cell phones, accessories and batteries, regardless of the carrier or manufacturer, to an AT&T store for recycling. Customers who bring in their unwanted phones receive an AT&T Promotion Card that can be used towards the purchase of another phone or other AT&T products, or the value can be donated to a charity. Verizon has a Wireless Trade In Program that is similar to AT&T's program. Customers are able to bring their unwanted cell phones to a Verizon store and receive a gift card in exchange. T-Mobile's trade-in program currently has a limited online offer that allows customers to trade-in old phones for a prepaid Visa card. Customers who buy a T-Mobile phone with either a two-year agreement or a $50 monthly 4G plan are eligible. Customers can get quotes on their old cell phones through the company's website and print out shipping labels. Image credit: Flickr user, compujeramey
Gina-Marie Cheeseman headshot

Gina-Marie is a freelance writer and journalist armed with a degree in journalism, and a passion for social justice, including the environment and sustainability. She writes for various websites, and has made the 75+ Environmentalists to Follow list by Mashable.com.

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