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Recycling Cell Phones Helps Save Gorillas

Recycling electronics helps reduce the demand for Coltan – an ore used to extend battery life in cell phones and other handheld devices. Coltan mines in the Democratic Republic of the Congo destroy habitats critical to endangered species such as the Western lowland gorilla. The Santa Barbara Zoo joins with 30+ zoos across the nation in the Gorillas on the Line program, and partners with Eco-Cell, a Louisville-based recycling company to recycle cell phones, help the environment, and raise money for gorilla conservation.

Electronics Recycling FAQ

What can YOU do to help?

It’s easy! Recycle your handheld electronic devices.

Devices we recycle: cell phones, smartphones, iPods or other MP3 players, iPads or other tablets, WIFI hot spots, handheld gaming devices, GPS, electronic accessories such as chargers, Bluetooth 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 used or broken handheld electronics on your next visit. The collection box is located outside Discovery Pavilion inside the Zoo.


Mail them in!

Santa Barbara Zoo
Eco-Cell Program
500 Niños Drive
Santa Barbara, CA 93103

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 a charge.

What is Eco-Cell?

Eco-Cell is a Louisville-based company that reuses and resells as many of the donated electronic items as they can. The cell phones and other handheld electronics that cannot be reused are safely recycled.

Where are the funds donated?

All funds received from recycling the devices go directly to support gorilla conservation initiatives through Gorilla SAFE programs, including habitat protection, population monitoring, and conservation education. As of 2023, nearly $50,000 has been raised to help gorillas through this program, which started in 2019.

Support the Zoo's Gorillas

Sponsor the Zoo’s gorillas through our Foster Feeder program.

Sponsor gorillas

500 Ninos Drive, Santa Barbara, CA 93103