As the Nov. 2 election day approaches, politicians, candidates and non-profit lobbying organizations can receive donations when consumers recycle used cell phones through, powered by ReCellular, a Dexter-based e-waste company specializing in the collection, reuse and recycling of used personal electronics, particularly mobile phones.

ReCellular is the first to offer this newly approved fundraising option to political campaigns and their supporting consumers.

Approved by the Federal Elections Commission last week, candidates and other political groups can allow consumers to designate the proceeds from their recycled trade-in to be donated to their favorite candidate or cause. The proceeds could be anywhere from $5 to $400, depending on the type of cell phone recycled.

The Michigan League of Conservation Voters is among the first groups to sign up for the program. Michigan LCV, which works to turn environmental values into community priorities, distinguishes itself through its accountability work and is well-known as the publisher of the non-partisan Michigan Environmental Scorecard, which shows how Michigan legislators voted on conservation and clean energy issues.

“It’s a fabulous way for us to make sure that cell phones are recycled,” said Lisa Wozniak, executive director of the Michigan League of Conservation Voters. “It also helps us do good work and fulfill our mission while allowing consumers to support their cause or campaign without having to cut into their budgets.”

Eligible participants include all registered federal candidates, regardless of party; political parties; 501(c)(4) non-profit lobbying organizations; and all non-connected political committees. Campaigns only need to pay a one-time $10 listing fee to register as required by the FEC.

Currently, individuals can trade in their phones, receive a check and send it to the campaign they choose. Soon, the process will be seamless, with online consumers needing only to click a campaign to transfer the funds directly. It’s not too late for consumers to lock in dollars from for their favorite campaigns; cell phones recycled through this week can still be contributed to help with the final push for candidates this coming election.

“Our charity donation program has been well-received, and this is a natural extension for political campaigns,” said Steve Manning, CEO of ReCellular. “Funding is critical for campaigns, and this capability provides a twofold benefit of fundraising while recycling.”

ReCellular, which employs 280 in Michigan, collects more than 400,000 mobile phones a month. Approximately 70 percent of those phones are refurbished and resold both domestically and worldwide; the rest are recycled for the precious metals, electronics and plastics that make up a phone. Phones are collected through partnerships with major mobile carriers, charities and large corporations and through direct purchases from consumers. Then they are sent to the company’s Dexter, Mich., facility for data removal and refurbishment or recycling. In 2009, ReCellular collected and processed 5 million phones for reuse and recycling, keeping more than 1.6 million pounds of solid and potentially harmful waste out of landfills.

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