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Wireless Industry Aims to Boost Phone Recycling

Wireless Industry Aims to Boost Phone Recycling
WASHINGTON - U.S. wireless carriers on Wednesday launched an initiative to boost recycling of older phones which consumers often stuff in a drawer after buying the latest and greatest new gizmo. With about 150 million wireless subscribers who replace their phones on average every 18 months, the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association kicked off an effort to encourage them to donate handsets to charity or recycle them. \"CTIA will also take the lead in educating and energizing consumers on the importance and ease of recycling wireless products,\" said Tom Wheeler, president of CTIA, the industry\'s trade group. About 80 million handsets are sold every year in the United States and carriers introduce dozens of new handsets annually. Verizon Wireless, the biggest U.S. carrier and a joint venture of Verizon Communications and Vodafone Group Plc, has had a program in place for the last seven years and collected more than 1.2 million phones in the last two years alone. Some of the phones were refurbished and donated to organizations that aid victims of domestic violence while the company donated about $1.5 million in cash, air time and handsets in the first six months of 2003. Cingular Wireless, a joint venture of BellSouth Corp. and SBC Communications Inc., said it accepts phones regardless of carrier and they are either repaired or sold to third parties who salvage the metal or parts for other uses. Members of CTIA, the industry trade group, pledged to further promote recycling and try to limit environmental harm from new products. It also plans to launch a Web site with information on recycling old wireless phones that may be sitting in their drawers at home, www.recyclewirelessphones.com. REUTERS NEWS SERVICE
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