What happens to cell phones once collected?

In nearly all cases, collected cell phones that are obsolete or irreparable are sent to environmentally sound smelters for recovery of copper and precious metals. Cell phones contain a number of different metals such as – gold, silver, platinum, palladium, rhodium, copper, tin, lead, brass and zinc – that can be extracted and recovered in the recycling process which in turn can be reused in various industries to create new products. Almost all of the materials used to manufacture cell phones can be recovered to make new products.

When cell phones can be refurbished, most that are collected in the US go either to a charitable organization for reuse or are re-marketed in Latin America. The marketing of used cell phones in these developing economies avails many people the access to modern communication technology who would not otherwise be able to afford it.