Sprint wins on e-waste: why do AT&T and Verizon fall short?

Read the full story in The Guardian.

Mobile phone sales – which totaled $24.6bn in 2012, according to eMarketer – are a key part of wireless carriers’ business models. And as those carriers push more and more frequent upgrades, many of the old phones are piling up in the trash.

All the major carriers say they are working hard to get consumers to bring mobile devices back into stores for reuse or recycling. But the hard numbers – overall – remain low. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that only 11% of smartphones and tablets are being recycled. Electronic waste has become a major environmental issue, with mercury and other heavy metals from devices crowding landfills across the US.

When it comes to e-waste, though, not all US carriers are equal. I asked the top US carriers – Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile – how many phones they recycled in 2012 so I could compare those figures with the number of phones sold in the same year.

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