Why And How To Recycle Your Old Phone

Chelsin Armendo

Is your cellphone contract nearing its end? Your carrier may offer a cheap or free upgrade if your old phone is returned for recycling. The easiest and most popular way to recycle old phones is to send a trade-in phone at the end of a contract. Your carrier may not accept your phone for trade-up if it is too damaged to be repaired. However, you can still recycle it.

Many third-party organizations and phone manufacturers offer financial incentives to recycle old phones. Some companies limit you to recycling one device and allow you to trade it for a newer model. Others allow you to recycle multiple phones.

Let’s look at the reasons why this is important and how to recycle your old phone:

Although it may seem like trash to you, your old phone is full of valuable materials. It can pose a danger to the environment and you if it isn’t properly disposed of. These are just a few reasons why recycling your cell phone is important.

Cellphones can contain dangerous materials that could be deadly for humans, animals, or plants. Mobile devices, for example, contain mercury. This metal has been long known to cause neurological problems, brain damage, and muscular disorders. Another common element found in phones is lead. It can cause brain damage and cancer. There are many other dangerous materials, but these are the most important. An experienced recycler will be able to safely handle any harmful materials contained in your phone.

Reusing a phone makes perfect sense. You can recover solder, gold, and silicon from a phone and use it again. The rare earth element that is used in electronics is not available in China. They could also be destroyed in case of conflict. A qualified recycler will be able to recover parts of your phone’s metal, plastic and rare earth elements if it is not working. You can save valuable resources by making sure your phone still works.

You can recycle your phone if you take care of it and help reduce waste in the ecosystem. This alone is an excellent reason to recycle an older phone.

You can save money by trading in your old phone for a new model. You get a new phone and a cash discount. Some sellers offer cash bonuses to customers who return an old phone. You can also get a financial reward for recycling your phone.

Two steps are required to recycle an old phone. You can recycle an old phone by simply dropping it off at a local recycling facility like Ecycle Florida that accepts electronic devices. 

If you are like most people and plan to trade your functional cellphone in for an upgrade, you will need to prepare it first to make sure your data is safe. You can then safely give it to the vendor knowing that no sensitive data is on it.

This is how to prepare your phone for recycling or resale.

  • Wash it well: Avoid using cleaners containing ammonia (which most window cleaners do). Use alcohol instead.
  • Back up all your data. Go online to your manual and find out the exact steps.
  • Perform an actual reset: Perform the factory reset. This will erase approximately 95% of the personal information stored on your phone.
  • Disconnect the SD and SIM cards: Get rid of any SIM, SD, or other cards you might have attached to your phone for more memory or capabilities.
  • Takedown your model number: Call your carrier if you don’t remember your model number.
  • Check basic functions: Does everything work? Verify that the backlight, charging ports, and volume control are working properly. Also, check the power button, touchscreen, power button, and camera to see if there are any dead pixels.
  • Return your phone for recycling or repair: Inform the organization about the general condition of your device. They will usually check the basic functions to ensure it is in good condition. They can recycle it if it’s not. If the item is in good condition, they will give credit to you for a trade-in/trade-up.

Keep old phones out of reach of children and pets. If left unattended, batteries and cell phones can be dangerous and could expose you or others to hazardous substances. As soon as you receive a new phone, be safe and bring your old phone to a local recycling center. This usually includes the store of your carrier.

This post was written by Steven Elia Co-Founder and Recycling Director at eCycle Florida. eCycle Florida is an R2 Certified electronics recycling company in the state of Florida. Our processes and procedures are dedicated to the proper destruction and recycling of your electronics. eCycle Florida is your go-to when looking for an electronic recycling center in Tampa. To learn more click here!

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