Aug 10, 2020

Donate a cell phone — and clear a land mine

Who would have thought recycling a cell phone could save lives? One Fresno State club is taking a unique approach to eliminating electronic waste and helping in the crusade to safely remove land mines from foreign countries.

The American Congress on Surveying and Mapping (ACSM) is collaborating with several organizations in order to collect used cell phones, recycle them and use the proceeds for a direct donation to the United Nations Mine Action Team.

David Biswanger, president of ACSM, initiated the idea. He wanted his club to do more than just meet and plan conferences. He wanted the ACSM to do something truly beneficial and positive for the community.

“I wanted ACSM to have a purpose,” Biswanger said, “a truly altruistic mission to accomplish that would tie in with our club and our department.”

The ACSM is part of the Fresno State Geomatics Engineering department, which specializes in projects concerning land surveying, mapping and monitoring equipment underground.

Biswanger said he knew the best charitable cause his club could contribute to was land mine removal since it directly relates to what his club is already doing.

“I just needed to find a way to raise funds to make a sizeable donation to the cause,” Biswanger said.

He said he got in touch with Re-Cellular, a company that collects and recycles used cell phones, and together they came up with a plan.

According to Re-Cellular’s Web site, the company takes used phones and uses the material to build brand new phones to distribute to Third World countries. Re-Cellular looks for new ways to collect phones and continue its charitable effort to make global communication a reality.

“Basically ACSM could help collect used cell phones for Re-Cellular and they would pay us for the phones,” Biswanger said,“ but all the proceeds would be given towards our cause of land mine removal.”

Biswanger then contacted Schonstedt, a company that builds and creates land mine detectors, and told them what he was doing.

“I basically worked it out so that the money from Re-Cellular would be donated to Schonstedt to make land mine detectors, for them in turn to donate directly to the United Nations Mine Action Team,” Biswanger said.

The United Nations Mine Action Team is a worldwide organization dedicated to the removal of land mines. They participate in actions ranging from teaching people how to protect themselves from danger in a mine-affected environment to advocating for a mine-free world.

Many don’t realize land mines are still a major safety concern in several parts of the world, and funding for them is constantly being cut back, Biswanger said. The Mine Action Team needs all the donations and help they can get.

According to The Mine Action Team’s Web site,, land mines and explosive remnants of war affect at least 78 countries and injure or kill between 15,000 and 20,000 people annually. Most victims are children who play in or around areas where land mines are unknowingly located.

The ACSM does not receive any profit from collecting and giving the phones to Re-Cellular — everything raised goes toward donations.

A little over 50 old cell phones have been collected so far, Biswanger said. But the donations have been limited to Geomatic students.

The ACSM plans to send out flyers next week detailing the cell phone campaign.

Biswanger said he was happy about how everything fell into place. He now just needs cell phones to collect.

“The average proceed collected per cell phone is about three dollars,” Biswanger said, “If all of the student body just dropped off one phone, that would raise $60,000 to donate toward the Mine Action Team.”

But Biswanger said that’s only if the ratio is one phone per student, a conservative number. He said that with technology quickly advancing, students are buying new phones right and left, and in fact may have several old phones lying around somewhere.

“One girl dropped off about 12 cell phones,” Biswanger said. “Students change cell phones faster than they change their underwear these days.”

Biswanger hopes word will spread and more people will start dropping off phones.

“Its all a win-win situation for everyone involved,” Biswanger said. “We are relieving students of unwanted junk, we are then having that junk recycled, preventing pollution and the money from doing it is being used to save lives.”

What to do with your old cell phone

Help save lives plus get rid of your old cell phone

• Where: drop off old cell phones at Engineering East rooms 106 and 107.

• Who to contact: ACSM at

• To find out more about the campaign for land mine removal, visit For information on cell phone recycling and other e-waste, visit

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