How Recycling Phones Helps Gorillas

Gorillas On the Line

The global mobile phone recycling challenge, “Gorillas on the Line…Answer the Call” came to a close on April 30, 2019. This community engagement initiative was created by the Association of Zoos and Aquarium (AZA) Gorilla Species Survival Plan education advisory team to raise awareness about cell phone recycling and its benefits to gorilla conservation.

Recycling old mobile phones and other small electronics (e.g. mp3 players, ipads and tablets) is a key step toward reducing the demand for coltan, a mineral used in the production of these items. Eighty percent of this mineral is mined from the Democratic Republic of Congo, an area where endangered gorillas live. As a result, gorillas are losing their habitats. Gorillas are on the line.

Public engagement around conservation is a central goal of the AZA Gorilla SAFE (Saving Animals from Extinction) program. The challenge, which kicked off in February with a mission to engage 10,000 people in collecting 10,000 phones, took place over the span of three months and involved businesses, community organizations, students, teachers, parents, zoo staff, and many others in collecting old handheld electronics to be recycled in the name of gorilla conservation

Twenty zoo and aquarium partners collectively hosted the challenge, recruiting schools and organizations within their local regions to join the campaign. In total, the message reached more than 260,000 people, 56 groups across the country participated and collected 12,006 old mobile phones, successfully completing the challenge for 2019. 

As a host partner in this campaign, Zoo New England engaged 7 organizations, including Waste Management, which helped to collect 331 old cell phones and 51 old tablets. Plus, we spread our message to over 3,000 people!  With the help of Waste Management IT Mgr. Jeff Bailey, Waste Management in Foxboro contributed 40 tablets and 57 phones.

Zoo New England’s participating groups include: Eaton Vance
Waste Management
Jack ‘n’ Jill Child Care
Concord-Carlisle High School Environmental Club
City of Boston, Inspectional Services Department
LAER Realty Partners

Thank you to all those who answered this important call to help save gorillas from extinction.