The Only Guide to Cell Phone Recycling You’ll Ever Need

Recycle cell phones

Courtesy of EPA

The EPA’s National Cell Phone Recycling Week in 2010 initially kicked off a program that is still going strong, with more info and how to sign up here. This effort is to encourage citizens to recycle their cell phones and increase awareness about the importance doing so.

Even back in 2003, the Wireless Association CTIA made a statement that, “there are 150 million wireless phones subscribers…more than 80 million wireless phones sold in North America each year, and an average subscriber upgrades equipment every 18 months.” These numbers have only grown, and this is what creates the issue of wireless phone disposal.

Cell phone recycling programs allow businesses and consumers to easily recycle old wireless phones, reducing waste and keeping harmful materials such as heavy metal from entering landfills.

Recycle your cell phone by using mail back programs, through a drop-off location, donate it to a charity, or recycle and make a little money through an internet auction site.

Mail Phones

Apple’s free recycling program will take back your iPod or any cell phone- any manufacturer or model. Apple posts their responsible recycling processes openly, ensuring that all electronics are processed in the U.S. and does not use prison labor or ship them to developing countries.

Just go to their iPod and cellphone recycling page to fill out a brief form, then find your nearest retailer or get an address label to ship it off.

Donate Old Phones to Charity

Many companies act as resellers and refurbishers of old cell phones. They collect thousands of cell phones every day from collection sites all over! This gives you a chance to buy and sell used phones, and all phones and accessories that cannot be reused are recycled responsibly.

Have your old cell phone go to a good cause when you send it to Cell Phones for Soldiers. Revenue from recycling cell phones goes towards a purchase of calling cards for soldiers to call home. Read more about this helpful program here.

This cell phone recycling site is and run by Earthworks, a non-profit organization that works exclusively on resource extraction issues (i.e. mining, drilling and digging). They will also accept phone batteries and chargers. When you mail your phone in, you’re able to deduct both the value of the phone and shipping cost from your taxes.

Recycle Cell Phones for Cash

Ebay’s Instant Sale is a great way to get cash for old cell phones. You receive payment into your PayPal account. Be sure to search for your exact cell phone model to see search results. The best part is that if your device has no value and does not sell, they’ll recycle it for FREE. The recycler they use is ECS Refining, which is a pledged e-Steward organization. This demonstrates their formal commitment to the highest standard for globally responsible electronics recycling and refurbishment.

3 More Ways to Recycle Cell Phones for Cash

Cell For Cash

1. Cell for Cash provides a recycling statement that includes no landfills, 100% accountability for materials, along with metal and plastic recovery and recycling. Their recycling certifications support and promote high standards of environmental quality and regulatory compliance that include third party audits of electronics recycling facilities.

2. Sell, ship and recycle your many electronics with Gazelle. They have a comprehensive recycling promise available on their site, which specifies that all of Gazelle’s National e-Waste Alliance Partners are members of the BAN e-Stewardship program.

Type in the model of phone you have, and they pay for shipping. After you receive a quote for your device using their website, you have the option to donate what your electronic device is worth to charity.

3. Costco teamed up with Gazelle for their Trade-In & Recycle Program. Trade-in electronic gadgets such as laptops, cell phones, LCD monitors, digital cameras, MP3 players, and gaming systems for Costco Cash, which is valid for anything in Costco warehouses or at Costco.com. After visiting their site, it’s just 3 steps:

  1. Find out how much your gadget is worth
  2. Ship the item(s) to Gazelle.
  3. Receive a card with money on it for Costco within 2 weeks.

They don’t take printers or TVs – but search our articles on those for more info.

See our article on reverse vending machines to learn about kiosks near you that accept old cell phones and give you money.

Remember: Before you drop off or mail in your old cell phone, make sure that you have terminated your service contract for the phone and erased any data in the phone!


Links to products featured on RecycleScene are affiliate links. We try and only feature products that close the recycling loop. Make a purchase of recommended products on our site, and we get a small percentage of affiliate commission to maintain our site. Thanks!

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