If you have an old cell phone laying around the house, you could help people fleeing domestic violence.
Sasktel is in the middle of its second annual recycling drive to remove unwanted phones from homes and keep them out of landfills.
“I think everyone has at least two or three cellphones sitting around at home if they think about it,” said Tim Jones, manager of external communications at Sasktel. “It’s one of those things that’s just so common these days.”
The Phones For a Fresh Start program collected more than 5,000 cellphones during its 2017 drive. As phones lifespans have dwindled down in recent years, the pressure to responsibly recycle increases each year.
“There’s tonnes of rare metals, plastics, the glass — all sorts of items and parts of that cellphone are able to be recycled and they have a value if we recycle them,” said Jones of the materials that rarely end up in recycling bins.
“It’s one of those things that we can use to help clean up the environment and also keep that value chain moving.”
That value is the reason for the recycling drive.
Sasktel has partnered with the Provincial Association of Transition Houses and Services Saskatchewan (PATHS) since the program’s inception in 2009.
From now until April 30, Sasktel is asking any one with an unwanted cellphone to bring it to one of its authorized dealers and donate the phone to the fresh start program.
Recycled phones that can be refurbished will return to market, while the rest will be broken down to parts and materials that can be resold for cash.
Proceeds from that recycling process are used to buy pre-paid phone cards and new phones for people trying to escape domestic violence.
Jones and the team at Sasktel are thankful to play a vital role in keeping that line of communication open for PATHS.
“When people find themselves in that situation, you forget how hard it can be to make connections,” he said. “If you don’t have a phone to stay connected, or even to stay connected with friends and family and that support network, it’s just very difficult for those people in that situation.”
Overall, the program has provided PATHS with more than 2,800 cellphones and $71,000 in prepaid cards since its launch in 2009.
“We think there could be up to 650,000 or so cellphones just in storage in people’s homes right now and we’d love to all those come in this week.”