Wireless phone use has jumped from 33.8 million subscribers in 1995 to more than 255 million in 2007, according to the CTIA - The Wireless Association.
Most phones are used an average of 18 months before being replaced. It is estimated that more than 150 million cell phones will be replaced this year, accounting for a staggering 65,000 tons of e-waste. Before being disposed of, many will be stashed in homes and offices, creating a stockpile of roughly 500 million wireless phones.
A typical wireless phone consists of 40% metals, 40% plastics, and 20% ceramics and other trace materials. Much of this is recoverable, including the batteries. Wireless phones also contain a number of toxic materials, such as lead and brominated flame-retardants, which are released into the environment when they are disposed of in a landfill or incinerator.
Verizon Wireless offers a cell phone recycling program called HopeLine. Cell phones from any carrier can be sent in, postage-paid, and those phones are used to support the victims of domestic violence. Other phone recycling programs can be found here.