ReCellular Recycles Wireless Phones

New Orleans, LA— ReCellular Inc. has a message for anyone who believes their old cell phone is no longer good for anything but the dumpster: Call us.

ReCellular, a 12-year-old, 160-person company based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, has built a thriving business around the concept of refurbishing used cell phones sent to it by wireless carriers, manufacturers, charities, community organizations, and other groups. After ReCellular thoroughly restores and reconditions the phones, it then markets them to companies that resell them in developing nations. ReCellular shares a major portion of its revenues with the donor, making the market for used phones profitable as well as environmentally and socially responsible. This year ReCellular expects to pay charitable organizations several million dollars for the phones those groups collect.

ReCellular's winning formula has caused it to grow significantly since its inception; in fact, the company will process in excess of 4.5 million phones in 2003.

Among the many non-profit organizations involved with ReCellular's efforts is the March of Dimes, whose "Make the Call to Fight Prematurity" national program was launched in January of this year. "Make the Call to Fight Prematurity" turns used handsets into funds that support research and education programs as well as assistance for health care providers as they identify women at risk for premature birth.

Another charity, the Canadian Association of Food Banks (CAFB), has launched Phones-for-Food with the support of oil/gas company Petro-Canada and Purolator, Canada's leading overnight courier company. Handsets turned in to any Petro-Canada or Purolator location are processed and sold by ReCellular; the resulting proceeds benefit CAFB, an umbrella agency which oversees 90% of the emergency food relief in Canada.

Roughly 70% of the phones made available to ReCellular are marketable, with about half requiring some kind of work. Usable phones are tested, repaired as needed, cosmetically restored to rigorous customer specifications, and individually packaged for resale along with a battery, charger, and instructions.

Even devices that are beyond repair receive responsible treatment. Rather than discarding phones to a landfill, ReCellular is aligned with component recycling companies that disassemble each handset and battery, recycling the plastic and metal as well as the battery components. "Materials in cell phones and batteries can be a real problem for incinerators or waste disposal sites," Newman states. "By extracting and reusing the raw materials, we increase the overall financial return while helping the environment."

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