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Cell Phone Recycling Procedures

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Hands with cell phones - Cell Phone Recycling Procedures
Daliah Okoro
Daliah Okoro
June 5, 2020

Now that federal recycling laws are in place, many people may not realize how important it is to dispose of their electronics properly. Smartphones are one of the most popular items discarded in the trash. Made with a variety of toxic materials, these cellphones can last forever in a landfill.

Research shows that phones last an average of five years, but people typically discard their phones before that. While some cellphones are traded in, many are simply thrown in the trash or kept in an old drawer with other defunct devices. So, what can you do?


Soil Pollution

Most states now have a cellphone and electronics recycling program. This is because these devices have too many toxins and chemicals that don't degrade appropriately in the soil. When left in landfills, these materials pollute the ground even more for years after they are discarded.

Before recycling, follow these tips:

  1. Make a backup of your phone or back up photos and important notes on your computer
  2. Delete all critical data from your phone using a factory reset
  3. Remove the lithium-ion battery if necessary and recycle separately

You should include any accessories for your device if you no longer use them, such as an old charging chord that goes with an outdated phone model. Next, you'll want to find a place that follows proper cell phone recycling procedures to dispose of your device correctly.


Woman putting a cell phone in a recycling bag

If you have tried to trade in your device, but it's past its expiration date and can't be returned or traded in, then you can check if the manufacturer offers a recycling program. While you may not get anything back for an older device, you can safely dispose of your old cell phone.

For example, Apple has a program where you can drop your iPhone off or even mail into the recycling center. If you do have a newer model, you may receive compensation for trading in. You'll have to check with the Apple store to see what's available.

Samsung, LG, and HTC all have recycling programs for Android phones. Samsung has the Mobile Take-Back Program, which sends you a prepaid shipping kit so you can mail back your old device. These companies follow strict cell phone recycling procedures, so your devices never wind up in a landfill.

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