November 17, 2018

Good Call Cellphone Recycling Program

The Guelph Tool Library is starting a new program to recycle cell phones around Guelph. Good Call will be collecting cell phones around Guelph to recycle.

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 re-used; 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.

Starting on December 5, locations to drop off cell phones include the three Planet Bean Coffee Shops, 10C Shared Space, Grange Hill East Neighbourhood Group, the offices of John F Ross CVI, GCVI, and Centennial CVI, Lakeside Church, OPIRG Office at the University of Guelph, Parkwood Gardens Neighbourhood Group and the Guelph Tool Library.


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.


The Toronto Zoo and Good Call are now part of a North American wide initiative to collect cell phones called Gorillas on the Line.  Below is more information about this program.

Gorillas On The Line

This message is from Elaine Christens who organizes the Toronto Zoo’s PhoneApes program.

We would like to invite you to take part in the “Gorillas on the Line…Answer the Call” campaign in which the Toronto Zoo’s PhoneApes program is participating.  This North American Zoo collaboration to raise awareness about the plight of gorillas in the wild is a synchronized mobile phone recycling campaign which ties in nicely with the PhoneApes program. This campaign is taking place February 1 to April 30, 2019.  The goal of the campaign is to engage 10,000 children and other community members in gorilla conservation action and to collect 10,000 mobile phones for recycling. By working together, it is hoped to generate excitement, facilitate participation, expand awareness, and celebrate collective conservation impact for gorillas. All phones collected during the campaign will be recycled by our program recycler, GEEP Inc., here in Ontario. One-hundred percent of the funds raised will be donated to on the ground conservation programs in Africa, such Ape Action Africa, Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project, Pan African Sanctuary Alliance (PASA).