Good Call Cellphone Recycling Program

We ran a very successful program in 2019.  We collected 450 phones and we were able to fix and redistribute 60 of them to Chalmers Community Services Centre, Hope House, Woman in Crisis and the Welcoming Streets Initiative of the Guelph Community Health Centre.  We will be running the program again in May of 2020.

Cellphones can still be donated at the Guelph Tool Library.  We will assess them to see if we can redistribute them or dispose of them through the Toronto Zoo Phone Apes program.

John Dennis, Good Call Program Coordinator


** About the program **

Broken and older cell phones will go to the Toronto Zoo for recycling through their Phone Apes Recycling Program. The Toronto Zoo recycles cell phones as it helps to protect habitat for Lowland Gorillas. The mineral coltan, which is processed to tantalum, is a vital element in almost all cell phones and the mining of coltan puts pressure on the gorillas’ habitat. By recycling old cell phones, tantalum can be reused; lessening the demand to mine pure coltan.

Newer, working cell phones will be serviced and distributed by Repair Cafe Guelph volunteers and given to those that are in need of new cell phones. Chalmers Community Services Centre and Lakeside Hope House have offered to redistribute phones once they become available.

**What do do before donating your Cellphone**

Before donating your mobile devices please ensure that the account for the device has been fully paid and service has been deactivated.  Also remove the SIM card, if there is one, and clear off all personal information. This is a great site with instructions on how to wipe your device.

** Please Unlock Your Cellphone Before Donating It (If Possible) **

(Information below comes from

What is Unlocking?

Cellular phones are expensive technology. To help make them more affordable to new customers carriers like Bell, Rogers and Telus would commonly offset the cost by locking a phone to their network.  Unlocking a wireless device lets your phone work on any network that has compatible technology.

How Much Does It Cost?

Unlocking your Canadian cell phone is free. In June 2017, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) updated the Wireless Code of Conduct to address a number of common consumer complaints. One of them was the cost to unlock a phone, even after a customer has fully paid for the device. The government agency established that all wireless carriers must follow these rules:

  • All wireless devices sold after December 1, 2017, must be unlocked or sold with instructions on how to unlock the device at no additional cost.
  • All wireless devices that are locked to a carrier must be unlocked upon request at no cost to the consumer.
  • Unlocking must be completed even if the consumer is still on contract or device has not been paid in full.

Can My Carrier Refuse to Unlock?

There are some circumstances where a carrier may refuse to unlock a device, but this usually has to do with stolen phones or unpaid bills. If your phone has never been reported stolen and your account is in good standing there should be no issues having your wireless device unlocked.

Is My Smartphone Locked?

One way to tell if your device is unlocked is to take out your carrier’s SIM card and swap in one from another cell phone carrier.  When you boot up your phone, it will ask for an unlock code.  Contact the carrier who sold you the device to find the code.

How Do I Unlock My Phone For Free?

You will need the following:

  • Your phone’s IMEI number (not necessary for iPhones): This is your phone’s unique identity, like a fingerprint. Some phones have it as a 15-digit number on a sticker on the back. You can also find it by typing *#06# into your phone’s dialer, or find it in the About Phone section of your phone’s settings.
  • A SIM card from another carrier: A SIM card is how your device communicates with your wireless provider. Be aware that Rogers is the same network carrier as Fido, Bell is the same as Virgin Mobile, and Telus is the same carrier as Koodo. If you swap out one SIM for another that uses the same network then you may not get the unlock code request. However, you can switch to these other carriers without the need to unlock your phone. If you don’t have a SIM card for your iPhone, you can connect your phone to iTunes, erase and restore it for your phone to unlock. Back up your data before you erase your iPhone.
  • APN settings: This is the network configuration that allows your smartphone to access the data network. Many phones have these built-in for when you switch, but some may need to be added manually. You can search for them online, or ask your new wireless carrier to help with configuration.
  • Note that iPhone unlocking is completed by Apple. Once your carrier has confirmed that they will unlock your iPhone there may be a delay as Apple processes the request. This could take a few hours or a few days. Your carrier can update you on the status while you wait. Back up your iPhone data. The next step may require you to erase your iPhone and run the setup process.

This is a lot of tech to understand, but you’re not alone. Your best option is to simply call your cell phone carrier for help or walk into a store and ask them to do the work for you. Your carrier may also require the:

  • Name of the account holder
  • Account holder’s security password
  • Phone number currently assigned to the phone

Remember: Carriers cannot charge you to unlock your device. It’s your right, and it’s free.