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

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Recycle cell phones
Courtesy of EPA

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

Selling your phone on eBay is another 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, and see their website for how to see your phone’s current value.

More Ways to Recycle Cell Phones for Cash

1. 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.

2. See our article on reverse vending machines such as EcoATMs to learn about kiosks near you that accept old cell phones and give you money. Some of these machines are located in malls and shopping centers so keep your eye out for them.

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. Read more in the Terms of Use & Disclosure link in footer. Thanks!

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