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Sprint Tops Verizon, AT&T in Recycling Smartphones

sprint phonesSprint recycled or reused smartphones to the tune of 44% of its total 2012 sales; that compares to just 11.5% of total smartphone sales for AT&T.

Verizon says it recycles or reuses 28% of all devices (not just smartphones), according to The Guardian.

Sprint says it has diverted more than 53 million mobile devices from landfills since 2001, and has paid out $100 million worth of in-store credit to customers returning old devices, the article says.

Sprint says it was the first wireless carrier in the US to initiate a customer buyback program granting instant credit for eligible devices, from any carrier, in Sprint retail stores back in 2010. Today, more than four out of every 10 customers in Sprint retail stores participate in the buyback program, the company says. These recycling programs have helped create more than $1 billion in cost avoidance for the company. Sprint aims to collect 9 devices out of every 10 devices sold by 2017.

An audited count on Earth Day this year showed that Sprint had broken the world record for the number of cellular phones recycled in one week — 103,582 cell phones, more than double the previous record — as certified by Guinness World Records. AT&T set the previous world record in November 2012 with its customers recycling 50,942 devices in a week.

All major carriers have programs in place to encourage consumers to return mobile devices to stores for reuse or recycling. But the Environmental Protection Agency estimates that just 11% of smartphones and tablets make their way back to stores or other return locations for recycling.

Though Sprint beats AT&T in terms of these recycling metrics, AT&T makes significant strides in sustainability. This year, the company topped CR Magazine’s annual ranking of 100 Best Corporate Citizens,  pushing Bristol-Myers Squibb from its previous No. 1 ranking. Sprint ranked No. 4 in the environment category. The 100 Best List documents 298 data points of disclosure and performance measures collected from publicly available information in seven categories: environment, climate change, employee relations, human rights, governance, finance and philanthropy.

Frost & Sullivan says Sprint has carried out more green initiatives than any competing mobile operator in the United States. Frost & Sullivan awarded the company its 2012 North American Award for Green Excellence.

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