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How do I Recycle Cell Phones?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 17, 2024
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There are a number of ways to recycle cell phones, and in some cases, recycling can even net a small cash payment, making it well worth it. By recycling an old phone, someone can directly contribute to a decrease in electronic waste, and ensure that the components of the cell phone are responsibly disposed of by an organization or company which handles used electronics. Recycling cell phones reduces pollution, and encourages companies to reuse components, rather than using brand new materials.

Many cell phone service providers have a recycling program which consumers can use. They may mail a recycling envelope with a new phone, or they can send one out by request. Postage on the envelope is usually paid, so all that is necessary is dropping the phone in the bag and placing the bag in a mail drop box. This is probably the easiest way to recycle cell phones, and it ensures that the phone will be handled competently.

In some communities, a drop point established to recycle cell phones is available, allowing people to deliver old phones for collection by a recycling company. People can also access recycling programs online, printing out a label and affixing it to a mailing envelope with the cell phone to send it to one of these programs. In all of these cases, it is a good idea to remove private data from the phone first, and to recycle the charger and unwanted accessories with the phone.

It is also possible to donate cell phones to an organization which provides cell phones to people who need them, such as victims of domestic violence and soldiers who want to call home. These organizations recycle cell phones and strip them of personal information before providing them to community-based programs. Some of these organizations have websites with donation information, and people who are interested can also talk to programs in their areas who distribute cell phones to see if they accept donations.

If none of these options to recycle cell phones and batteries appeals, it is possible to sell a used cell phone. Salvagers and refurbishers buy old cell phones and either strip them and sell the components, or fix them and sell them at low cost. These companies pay a small fee in exchange for used phones, depending on the make and model, and they usually request that the charger and accessories are sent along with the phone.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGeek researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By Melonlity — On Feb 23, 2014

Online auction sites are a great way to get rid of old cell phones. Bear in mind that most "old" cell phones still have plenty of life in them -- we just tend to discard perfectly good equipment when it's only a couple of years old due to our desire to have the latest and greatest thing available. That "old" phone may be worth a lot more money than you think.

Also, keep in mind there are plenty of organizations out there that collect phones for our men and women in the armed services. Sending that "old" phone to someone in the military stationed overseas so they can call home more often is an awesome thing to do.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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