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The latest accomplishment? The Louisville Zoo was recently recognized as the No. 1 zoo in North America for cell phone recycling efforts in 2008 by ECO-CELL, North America’s premiere cell phone recycling program.
“This is a great mark of distinction,” Louisville Zoo Director John Walczak said. “More than 100 zoos in North America participate in ECO-CELL’s recycling program and to be No. 1 speaks to the Louisville Zoo’s leadership in areas of conservation and preservation, which are at the heart of our mission. It is also evidence of our community’s growing support for conservation efforts.”
In 2008, ECO-CELL diverted 4,000 pounds of toxic cell phone batteries, 35,000 cell phones and 6,000 pounds of cell phone accessories from landfills. The Louisville Zoo helped in that effort by collecting more than 4,400 old cell phones from visitors and businesses in 2008.
ECO-CELL recycles phones that are deemed end of life, and reuses other phones by either providing them to charities for emergency 911 uses or reselling them to refurbishers, who in turn sell them to emerging markets where the cost of a new cell phone is often prohibitive.
ECO-CELL gives the Zoo anywhere from 45 cents to $15 per phone donated, depending on the type. Since 2003 ECO-CELL has given the Louisville Zoo more than $15,000 which helps support the Zoo’s conservation programs.
For anyone who loves gorillas like I do, you’ll be interested to learn that recycling cell phones also helps save the world’s precious gorillas.
Cell phones contain a metallic ore called Coltan, a mineral that is refined into a heat-resistant powder that holds an electrical charge. The powder, which regulates voltage and stores energy, is essential for coating components of cell phones and other modern devices such as laptops, pagers and PDAs. Coltan is found in the Congo of central Africa, home to endangered lowland gorillas. Forest habitats are being cleared and gorillas, along with other rare animals, are being killed for bushmeat, a negative side industry of ore mining. The United Nations has reported that in the past five years, the eastern lowland gorilla population in the Congo has declined 90 percent because of these destructive activities. By reducing the demand for Coltan, gorillas and their habitats have a better chance for survival.
If you have an old cell phone lying around – maybe you got a new one for a holiday gift – bring it to the Louisville Zoo and help protect gorillas and their habitat. Make sure your service is disconnected and your phone is cleared of all its data, then drop it off at the designated cell phone donation box at the Zoo’s entrance. Organizations and groups are also encouraged to collect old cell phones and bring them to the Zoo. Pick-ups can be arranged for large donations, and/or a free Louisville Zoo donation box can even be requested through ECO-CELL and placed at your business for collections. For more information on these options, call ECO-CELL at (888) 326-3357.