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How Should I Dispose of my Old Cell Phone?

Tricia Christensen
Updated Jun 04, 2024
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Considering the staggering statistic that Americans discard about 151 million smartphones annually, as reported by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), it's crucial to contemplate what should I do with my old cell phone. 

Disposing of cell phones in landfills is not only often illegal due to the hazardous materials in batteries, but it also squanders valuable resources. The EPA emphasizes that recycling one million cell phones can recover 35,274 pounds of copper, 772 pounds of silver, and 75 pounds of gold. Therefore, before relegating your outdated device to a drawer or the garbage, consider the environmentally sound and philanthropic alternatives available for your mobile phone's next chapter.

You certainly don’t need to pay to recycle an old cell phone, and in fact, most companies that recycle them get paid to do so. This had led to many charities making a small amount of money by collecting old phones. There are large organizations that will take unwanted phones, but you might also want to think locally.

Many schools and local charities now have recycling programs, and they do make a little bit on each donation. The saying that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure certainly applies. If you can’t find a large cell phone recycling program in your area, you might consider starting a small local one, perhaps for a local public school.

Check first, since so many schools have gotten the jump on recycling them already. As people move to bigger and better phones, or smaller and better phones, there are plenty of old cell phones just waiting for a place to land, and smart schools have provided that place. Local charities may also offer computer recycling or battery recycling too.

You might also want to hang onto any accessories that you have, since things like chargers or covers can often be used with a new phone. Continuing to use accessories in good shape makes smart economic sense.

EasyTechJunkie 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.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a EasyTechJunkie contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By anon349749 — On Sep 29, 2013

I don't know what to do with my phone charger. Can I recycle that locally?

By XanderP — On Feb 25, 2013

An old blog post, but even more relevant today when you sell cell phones. The phone recycling industry in the UK has become bigger and bigger over the past few years and is now starting to really take off in America. The more we recycle, the better our world will be.

By anon45108 — On Sep 13, 2009

You can drop off, mail or arrange for pick-up all of your obsolete electronics to All Green Electronics Recycling. They service the entire continental U.S. and make sure that everything is handled responsibly - memories are deleted, nothing is exported and toxic materials do not go into landfills.

By anon41250 — On Aug 13, 2009

I rolled my phone number to my new cell phone but can't remove the number from my old cell. How can I prevent that number from going with that cell phone? I would like to recycle it.

By EBecker247 — On Jun 19, 2007

Are some accessories hazardous waste and others not?

By Grammmmm — On Jun 09, 2007

What about old cell phone chargers that don't fit your new phone? How can we dispose of them? Can they just be thrown in the trash, or is there a way to recycle them? Thanks for any help - we have 3 of them!

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a EasyTechJunkie contributor, Tricia...
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