How to Dispose of Your Old Cell Phone

If you purchased or received a new smartphone recently, you may be wondering what to do with your previous phone. Only about 10% of our mobile devices are properly recycled. Where do they go? Many remain hidden in a desk drawer or some other forgotten place. More often, they find their way into the trash and end up in landfills. If you aren’t sure about what to do with your now old cell phone, don’t toss it.

“Why Recycle Old Cell Phones?  Basically, cell phones contain toxic metals – such as lead, mercury, arsenic and cadmium, all of which have the tendency to pollute the environment and affect human health. When you dispose your old cell phone in the garbage bin, through which it is sent to landfills, the toxic metals in it come in contact with soil, and pollute it. The problem is not just restricted to this, as these metals also have the tendency to pollute ground water sources and eventually harm humans. Instead, when you opt for cell phone recycling, these metals are extracted and reused as a result of which they do not contaminate the environment. More importantly, reusing these metals will also reduce the need of mining them.”1

What Should I Do Before I Recycle or Donate My Cell Phone?

  1. Make sure the account has been deactivated and all bills have been fully paid.
  2. Remove the SIM card (if there is one).
  3. Clear all personal information.

To do this, you want to delete all photos, messages, contacts and personal files. Recycle My Cell has a tool that allows you to select your phone’s manufacturer and model and provides detailed instructions on how to clear your specific device of all personal information.

Donate.  There are many charities that accept old cell phones as donations. There are many agencies who specialize in pairing people in need with donated phones. You can choose to drop off the phone in person or save some time and simply mail the phone in. Choose an organization in your area and support a good cause with this great way to recycle your cell phone.  Cell Phones for Soldiers is just one example of an organization that will benefit by your donation. Recycling for Charities also offers some additional suggestions, and an FAQ guide.

Give it to a Family Member or Friend.  If you have already given your older phone to a family member or friend, that’s a great way to recycle. Teenagers, grandparents, or other family members may really benefit from having a phone you’re personally acquainted with. This could be a great gift for those looking for their first phone or those who need a cell for convenience only.  Ask around in the neighborhood where you live – perhaps a neighbor will know a person in need.

Sell It.  Are you looking for some extra cash to use on holiday gifts? Why not sell your old cell phone? There are several websites that offer buy back services for cell phones. By using these sites, you’ll include a middle man in the equation and you’ll lose a portion of the money to pay for the service. You can also sell the phone yourself on a site like eBay or Craig’s List. It might take a little longer, but if you choose this option, you’ll get to keep all of the profit. The newer your phone, the more money you’ll make by selling it.

EPA – Electronics Donation and Recycling Guide:  Click Here to for helpful advice and a list of where you can donate your used cell phone.

How will you choose to recycle your cell phone? Don’t let it take up space in your home. Find the way that works best for you and cross the task off of your to do list.