Cell phones should always be properly recycled; they contain toxic metals (lead, mercury, cadmium & arsenic) and should never be thrown away to be landfilled. Environmental contamination may occur from combustion and leaching into soil and groundwater. Unfortunately, fewer than 2% of old cell phones are recycled.
Many charitable locations will accept gently used cell phones. Also, look for your local cell phone drive, hosted by many schools and charitable groups.
Keep Northern Illinois Beautiful Metals & Electronics Drive (Call 815-637-1343 for more information)