How to Recycle Cell Phones
The Consumer Electronics Association expects a cell phone to last less than five years, and that’s assuming you don’t decide to upgrade to new technology every two years.
The good news is that cell phones have the highest recycling market of any electronic material. The bad news is that in the U.S., we only recycle 10 percent of our phones, according to the EPA. The rest may end up in a landfill, but more likely end up in our desk drawers or garages.
Recycling cell phones has never been easier, as you can trade them in when buying a new phone for cash, mail them for recycling, take them to retail locations that participate in Call2Recycle or recycle them with other e-waste.
Here are a few steps to prepare your phone for recycling:
- If you bought a new phone, make sure to transfer the data from your old phone. The store can often help with this.
- Locate the settings screen on your phone and factory reset it so all your data is removed. As an added precaution, you can also remove the SIM card.
- If the cell phone battery is removable, you’ll want to take it out. Most cell phone batteries are lithium-ion batteries, which require special transportation for recycling, so this is especially important if using a manufacturer’s mail-back program.
Use the Recycling Locator to find a drop-off location near you.
Frequent Cell Phone Recycling Questions
- Do I Need to Erase My Cellphone Before Recycling?: It’s easier than you think to protect your personal information
- How Can We Increase Phone Recycling Rates?: Efforts being made to increase cell phone recycling
- Infographic: The Impact of Cell Phone Recycling: A visual look at why you should recycle your phone