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Reduction and Recycling (Electronic Devices)

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What is the connection between animals and handheld electronics like cell phones?


Cell phones and other handheld electronic devices contain a material called tantalum that is derived from the mineral Col-Tan (columbite-tantalite). Coltan is destructively mined in central Africa, which happens to be where animals like chimpanzees, gorillas, mandrills and okapi live.

When the metal is taken from these animal habitats, their homes become disrupted and these animal populations, as well as other plant and animals species in the same habitat, decrease.

Benefits at Home

Cell phones and their accessories contain a large number of hazardous substances and toxic materials. These toxins include arsenic, beryllium, cadmium and lead. When thrown away, these electronics make their way to landfills where these contaminants can leach into the ground and waterways contaminating natural resources and polluting wildlife habitat.

chimpanzee standing in grass outside

What can YOU do to help?

It is simple! Recycle your handheld electronic devices.

Devices we recycle: Cell phones, Smart phones, iPods or other MP3 players, iPads or other tablets, WIFI hot spots, Handheld gaming devices, GPS, Electronic accessories such as chargers, blue tooth headsets, etc.

By recycling cell phones, YOU can help animals like gorillas, chimpanzees, and okapis by reducing the demand for new materials to be mined.

How to Recycle

Drop off your unused handheld electronics on your next visit. The collection box is located at the main entrance of the Zoo next to Guest Relations.

OR Mail them in!

Houston Zoo
c/o Electronic Device Recycling Leader
1513 Cambridge St.
Houston, Texas 77030

Our Global Partners

Conservation Heritage-Turambe
Gorilla Doctors
Okapi Conservation Project

Frequently Asked Questions

What is cell phone recycling?

Cell phone recycling encourages responsible waste management of electronic materials.

E-waste is growing repidly and the impacts include illegal and irresponsible mining, landfill restrictions and overuse, health problems in developing countries.

Recycling of handheld electronic devices helps reclaim the valuable metals and reduces environmental social impacts.

Is it safe to donate?

Yes! Just make sure you terminate your service or switch your contract to a new phone.
Clear any personal data from the phone by removing the SIM card or manually deleting the information. On most cell phones, you can find “Reset Phone” under “Phone Settings.”

Turn your phone off if your battery still has charge.

What is Eco-Cell?

Eco-cell is a Louisville-based company that reuses and resells as many items as they can for consumption. Cell phones and other handheld electronics that cannot be reused are recycled.

All accessories are recycled with HOBI and batteries that cannot be reused are recycled with MCT.

Where are the funds donated?

All funds received from recycling the devices go directly to great ape (chimp and gorilla) conservation in Africa. Over $1000 a year!

Recycled your cell phone, but want to do more?