Strategies: Finding The Phones
By Conrad Melancon
Each year more than $1 billion dollars worth of cell phones are retired when consumers change handsets. This means there is plenty of opportunity for you to make money by recycling old cell phones. Your challenge is not how or where to sell the phones you collect, but figuring out how to round up the millions of cell phones in the desk drawers, closets and warehouses of America.
It is estimated by many industry and environmental groups that only 5% of consumers recycle their old cell phones, even though 70% see the need for a cell phone recycling solution. This means that cell phone recycling is still very much an emerging business opportunity. The best things about this business are the fact that there is plenty of product, it doesn’t take a lot of capital to get started, and there is absolutely no problem finding people who are willing to buy the phones you collect.
Working with Consumers
Most consumers are aware that their old cell phones have components which are hazardous to the environment and know they should not throw them away. If you simply appeal to their sense of community and environmental responsibility most people will give you their phones. The trick is to catch them when they have the phone close at hand or have time to find their old phones.
The best way to reach consumers is by either marketing your services to them at their homes or place of employment. As with many other services you can market your services door-to-door by using door hangers or flyers, enlisting the aid of local civic groups, or direct mail. As far as going to businesses, most companies have an area where they promote recycling glass, plastics, paper, etc. It is relatively easy to ask them to place a cell phone collection box in this same area and then stop by to pick up the phones every week or two.
Working with Retailers
Cell phone waste and the potential environmental hazards improper disposal may cause is gaining national attention. You can help cell phone retailers recognize the advantages that recycling old cell phones can have for their business such as positive press, increased business and goodwill in the community.
Beginning next month the State of California requires all wireless retailers to provide a no-cost way for their customers to recycle their old cell phones. In fact, The Cell Phone Recycling Act of 2004 makes it illegal for a wireless retailer to sell a cell phone if they don’t provide a way for their customers to recycle their old cell phones.
Providing retailers in California with a comprehensive cell phone recycling program not only enables the retailer to comply with the new law, it also helps them bring a needed value add service to their customers.
Helping retailers everywhere is a lot easier than you may think. Encourage retailers to have signs or hand outs in their stores which inform customer’s cell phones can be recycled at their location and include information in advertising and direct sales pitches.
I recommend that you provide this service free to the retailer as long as they recycle at least 50 cell phones each month. Not difficult for a typical retail store. The average retail store does 100 activations or upgrades and 90% are existing wireless users changing carriers so those customers have cell phones to recycle. If the retailer makes the free recycling service part of their sales pitch they should easily be able to collect 50 cell phones for recycling every month.
Remember, just like money there is no shortage of phones….sometimes you just have to get creative on how and where you collect them.
Melancon is the President of He
joined the company in November
of 2004 as the Director of
Business Development and assumed
his current position in December
of last year.