ReCellular is offering another way for Americans to contribute to rescue and recovery efforts in earthquake-ravaged Haiti.
The mobile phone refurbisher and recycler announced Jan. 14 that the profits it makes on collected phones, whether they can be resold or recycled, will be contributed to American Red Cross efforts in Haiti.
"The devastation in Haiti is slowly becoming all too clear," Steve Manning, CEO of ReCellular, said in a statement. "Sending in your used phone is a simple and effective way to help with the rescue and rebuilding efforts already under way."
Shipping phones to ReCellular is free. Donors can download a prepaid shipping label from the company's Website.
As for security, ReCellular said it wipes any personal data from the phones before recycling. But it also provides a utility it calls the cell phone Data Eraser, which walks consumers through a set of instructions specific to each device, enabling them to personally clear their information from the phones before donating.
ReCellular said it will give 100 percent of each phone's net value to the Red Cross, and it hopes to raise millions of dollars.
Mike Newman, vice president of ReCellular, told eWEEK that in general, newer phones are preferred, but the company will accept whatever people send.
"It is important to point out that ReCellular is a recycling company, so we encourage everyone to send in their phones regardless of age," Newman said. "But though we get literally thousands of different phone models every month, only approximately 500 of them have reuse value, typically those that are less than four years old. The Motorola Razr is currently the most recycled model."
ReCellular's Haitian aid program will continue until further notice, Newman said. The company is also working on a way to send some of the refurbished phones to Haiti for people there to use, although plans for this project are not complete, and ReCellular hopes to make an announcement about this project in a few days, he said.
While the FBI and other law enforcement agencies have warned prospective donors to act carefully to avoid being taken in by the fraudulent Haitian disaster relief donation schemes that quickly set up shop after the Jan. 12 earthquake, Newman wanted to assure phone donors that ReCellular's business and charity program are legitimate.
Newman said while he was unsure of whether ReCellular was accredited through the Better Business Bureau, his company has been around since 1991 and has been a recycling partner for charities and companies of all sizes, including retailer Best Buy and the March of Dimes charity.
"We pride ourselves on our transparency," he told eWEEK. "You can see our annual report (in spite of being a privately held company) at our Website ... and we invite the media to come and see us and tour our plant." Newman said funds will be sent to the Red Cross weekly, as the phones arrive.