Recycle Your Phone: The Essential Guide to Why, How, When and Where to Properly Dispose of Your Smartphone
How to recycle your phone, where to recycle it, and why you should do itThinking about recycling your phone? It’s a great way to protect the environment; but with so many phone recycling options available, it can be difficult to determine which is best. Here’s a quick overview of the reasons why you should recycle your phone and where you can do it.
Why you should recycle your phonePhone recycling offers several benefits, including:
- Reduction of air and water pollution from hazardous materials like lead, mercury, and arsenic
- Precious metal preservation and reuse
- Need-based assistance (donating phones to charitable causes, which also has tax benefits)
- Extra money (when phones are sold or traded in to new users)
The e-waste problem isn’t limited to the U.S.; in fact, it’s an even bigger problem in Asia, where even the act of recycling can prove harmful particularly to children, who are forced to smelt phones with no protection from the harmful chemicals the process releases.
How to recycle your phoneRecycling your phone is easy:
- First, backup and erase all data. Here are instructions for Android and iOS.
- Choose your recycling method.
- Work with your selected recycler to deliver your phone.
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Where to recycle your phoneThe environmental benefits to phone recycling are clear, but not all recyclers are created equal. Some engage in practices that ultimately harm the environment and workers (including children) who process the materials.
In fact, the Basel Action Network, a government watchdog, reports that 40 percent of e-waste given to recyclers gets shipped illegally to polluting operations overseas.
Two companies have created certification standards R2 Certified Recyclers and e-Stewards Certified Recyclers to limit dangerous, pollution-producing practices. Recycling through organizations certified by either company helps ensure your phone will not contribute to pollution or harmful child labor.
Recycling CentersYou can take or mail your phone directly to an electronics/e-waste recycling center. Find local centers with a Google search; or, use the following links to find recycling drop-off locations in your state, county, and city.
R2 and e-Stewards certified recyclersThe U.S. EPA provides a list of certified electronics recyclers that have R2 and e-Stewards certification. Find it here.
Electronics recycling center directoriesThese searchable online directories feature comprehensive databases of recycling centers nationwide.
State-by-state recycling center directoriesMost states have their own directories of recycling centers, searchable by county, city, and/or zip code. Some offer PDF listings. State-specific directories are linked below; where state resources were thin, we’ve substituted with state directory links from the list above.
Corporate-sponsored recyclingMany electronics manufacturers and retailers offer free recycling programs; here are links to some of the most popular.
Donate your phoneYou can donate your phone to charitable organizations, which will give your device to help those in need or sell it and use the funds to support their respective causes. Find charitable causes that accept phones at the following links:
- Where can I donate my phone?
- 16 more charities for donating your used smartphones, video games, and electronics
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Sell your phoneYou can sell your phone to trade-in companies, which will refurbish your phone and resell it to a new user. Thus, your phone will be given a second life, and you’ll get paid to boot. Find out how much your phone is worth and compare the highest-paying trade-in offers at Flipsy.com.
Recycling is the best way to dispose of your phone. Use these tips to recycle your phone responsibly, whether you want to save the environment, help those in need, or simply make some quick cash.
Next: The Best Places to Donate Your Used Phone (Master List)