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  • We’re partnering with the High School for Environmental Studies to create a Secret Life class in which students make their own videos.
  • The Secret Life of Cell Phones was screened at cell phone recycling collection points throughout the Johns Hopkins University campus on Earth Day.
  • Zayed University in Dubai has requested use of Secret Life materials for its students.


The reports below are listed in chronological order.

Cell Phone Take-Back Programs in New York City: Compliance with the New York State Wireless Recycling Act and Voluntary Cell Phone Take-Back Programs

Céline Soudant, Brian Ohl and Eleanor Saunders
(2008, 28 pp.,)

As a follow up to The Secret Life of Cell Phones, INFORM’s recent video on cell phone recycling, and INFORM’s 2005 report, Wireless Waste: The Challenge of Cell Phone and Battery Recycling, INFORM has repeated a survey of cell phone recycling in New York City. This survey report provides a brief overview of the problem of cell phone waste, a discussion of the New York State cell phone take-back legislation, and an in-depth look at compliance with such legislation in New York City based on our survey results. In addition, this survey report examines compliance with voluntary cell phone take-back programs in New York City such as the Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation (RBRC) program and programs offered by national chains such as Best Buy and Staples.

Wireless Waste - The Challenge of Cell Phone and Battery Recycling

Aarthi Rayapura
(2005, 24 pp.,)

In 1994, the Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation (RBRC), a non-profit organization was set up by the rechargeable power industry to take back used rechargeable batteries and recycle them. In March 2004, RBRC expanded the program to include cell phone recycling (Call 2 Recycle). According to RBRC, more than 30,000 stores in the country participate in their recycling program and consumers can drop off used batteries and cell phones at these locations for recycling.

INFORM conducted a survey in October 2004 to verify the program’s reach and implementation. The survey was not meant to be comprehensive in nature but was intended to provide a snapshot of the program in 5 cities in New York and New Jersey.

Calling All Cell Phones: Collection, Reuse and Recycling Programs in the US

Eric Most
(2003, 48 pp.,)

The follow-up to Waste in the Wireless World: The Challenge of Cell Phones, this report addresses four key programs now under way in the US to collect, refurbish, and recycle used cell phones. It describes the methods these programs employ to recover used phones and assesses the effectiveness of such programs as the primary approach for dealing with cell phone waste in the US. Their revenues and expenses and the ultimate destination of refurbished phones sold abroad are also examined. Includes recommendations for increasing collection rates and improving the programs through greater participation and product designs that encourage reuse and recycling.

Waste in the Wireless World: The Challenge of Cell Phones

Bette K. Fishbein
(2002, 109 pp.,), ISBN 0-918780-78-0

This report examines the waste issues posed by cells phones and other wireless electronic devices: the growing numbers of these products that are purchased and discarded and the many toxic substances they contain. Also examines government policies and corporate initiatives addressing the end-of-life management of electronic products in the US and abroad and presents a series of specific recommendations for minimizing the environmental and health impacts of this rapidly growing waste stream.


Leasing: A Step Toward Producer Responsibility

Bette Fishbein (INFORM), Lorraine S. McGarry (Duke University, Nicholas School of the Environment), and Patricia S. Dillon (Tufts University, The Gordon Institute)(2000, 75 pp.,) ISBN 0-918780-77-2

This report examines the practice of leasing products, rather than selling them, as a strategy for increasing resource productivity, particularly by preventing waste generation and encouraging a closed-loop pattern of materials use through reuse, remanufacturing, and recycling. Explores the ways in which leasing and servicizing (selling the function of a product rather than the product itself) can affect product ownership, management at end of life, and product design for a variety of companies and products. Includes case studies focusing on office equipment, carpeting, cleaning equipment, and personal computers.

Extended Producer Responsibility: A Materials Policy for the 21st Century

Bette Fishbein (INFORM), John Ehrenfeld (MIT), and John Young (Materials Efficiency Project)
(2000, 290 pp.,) ISBN 0-918780-73-X

Addresses materials use and its environmental impacts worldwide; EPR policies and programs in the United States; e-commerce and its potential environmental impacts and implications for EPR; and the corporation's role in implementing EPR and related policies. Prepared on the occasion of Expo 2000, the international exposition held in Hanover, Germany, from June to October 31, 2000, the report's findings were presented by its authors at the Berlin Resources Summit preceding the exposition.

Waste at Work: Prevention Strategies for the Bottom Line

John Winter and Anne Marie Alonso (1999, 105 pp.,), ISBN 0-918780-71-3

Describes the myriad ways in which businesses (and also government agencies) can reduce their purchasing, labor, and waste disposal costs through straightforward changes in procurement and workplace operations. Provides waste prevention strategies for all the work areas of the typical business: offices, shipping and receiving, food services, facilities, and purchasing. Also provides guidance on adapting a company's purchasing policy and documents to encourage procurement of products that help prevent or reduce waste.

Getting an "A" at Lunch: Smart Strategies to Reduce Waste in Campus Dining

David Saphire (1998, 26 pp.,) ISBN 0-918780-69-1

Describes simple steps to prevent the millions of pounds of food and food-related waste generated each day at colleges and universities. Provides case studies of campuses around the country where using products more efficiently, using them longer, and using them over and over again has reduced purchasing and operational costs while helping the environment. Developed and implemented by students, faculty, and staff, the strategies are applicable to the full range of campus food service arrangements, from traditional dining halls through cafeterias and fast-food takeout operations.


Building for the Future: Strategies to Reduce Construction and Demolition Waste in Municipal Projects

Bette Fishbein (1998, 102 pp.,) ISSN 10508153, Vol.5, No.1

In cities around the country, construction and demolition (C&D) debris--the waste produced in the course of constructing, renovating, and demolishing buildings--accounts for 10 percent to as much as 30 percent of the total municipal waste stream. This report describes strategies that have been used around the country to reduce this waste during the design, construction, and demolition phases of municipal building projects.

Rethinking Resources: New Ideas for Community Waste Prevention

David Saphire and Sharene Azimi (1997, 52 pp.,) ISBN 0-918780-67-5

Explores some of the key limiting factors to greater implementation of government waste prevention programs and describes a broad array of public and private sector initiatives that have overcome these limitations.

Read an executive summary of this report.


Industry Program to Collect and Recycle Nickel-Cadmium (Ni-Cd) Batteries

Bette Fishbein (©1997, manuscript copy only,)

This case study looks at one particular example of extended product responsibility: manufacturers taking responsibility for their products after they are discarded and become waste. The manufacturers of nickel-cadmium batteries (Ni-Cds) and products that contain such batteries have launched a national program to collect and recycle these batteries, at industry expense.


Less Garbage Overnight: A Waste Prevention Guide for the Lodging Industry

John P. Winter and Sharene Azimi (1996, 64 pp., ) ISBN 0-918780-66-7

Find out how hotels and motels can prevent the generation of solid waste, saving money throughout their operations. Includes numerous case studies.

Read an executive summary of this report.

Making Less Garbage on Campus: A Hands-On Guide

David Saphire (1995, 72 pp.,) ISSN 1050-8953, Vol 4., No 2

College campuses offer abundant opportunities for waste prevention. Here are case studies of campuses that have learned to prevent waste in a variety of innovative ways. Includes checklists for action.

Read an executive summary of this report.

Delivering the Goods: Benefits of Reusable Shipping Containers

David Saphire (1995, 32 pp., ) ISSN 1050-8953, Vol 3., No 1

Describes how reusing shipping containers can curtail packaging waste, offering environmental and economic benefits. Discusses institutional obstacles to more widespread use and options for overcoming them.

Read an executive summary of this report.

Germany, Garbage, and the Green Dot: Challenging the Throwaway Society

Bette K. Fishbein (1994, 276 pp.,) ISBN 0-918780-61-6

Analyzes the concept of extended manufacturer responsibility as a means to reduce product and packaging waste, through the lens of the German experience.

Read an executive summary of this report.

Case Reopened: Reassessing Refillable Bottles

David Saphire (1994, 366 pp.,) ISBN 0-918780-62-4

Compares impacts of refillable and single-use containers in generating solid waste, using energy, and polluting air and water. Looks at successful distribution systems here and abroad.

Read an executive summary of this report.

Making Less Garbage: A Planning Guide for Communities

Bette K. Fishbein and Caroline Gelb (1993, 176 pp.,) ISBN 0-918780-58-6

The original manual showing how the best way to avoid the problems of garbage is to avoid producing it. Documents dozens of programs that are working in businesses, institutions, and government to cut waste.

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