How to Dispose of Old Phones?

Cell phones have become an integral part of modern life, as technology improved they became the jack-of-all-trades of electronics. There was a time when we were impressed with our tiny Nokia phone and the game of Snakes each of them had. Cell phones have come a long way since then, each of them are tiny computers with amazing processing speed. 

However, due to the quick turnover of technology, phones become obsolete much faster nowadays. Chances are most of you buy a new phone almost every year, and you are not sure of what to do with your old phones. Or you have a collection of super old phones in your house that you’ve been collecting over the years. 

Phones are considered electronic waste and it is extremely important that they are disposed of properly, otherwise the environment suffers due to improper disposal. This article will go over why it’s important to dispose of phones properly, what the safe methods of disposal are, and what is to be done before disposal. 

How to Dispose of Old Phones?

You can either donate or sell a working phone. If you have an iPhone you can exchange it at an Apple store for a gift card. You get cash according to the model of your phone and its condition. As for old phones that are completely dead or broken, you have to recycle them. Apple accepts old iPhones for recycling completely free of charge. 

This program, Trade-in, accepts devices online as well. You have to apply to return your device, Apple will send you an envelope or a box, you will have to send your device via mail to Apple with the address they give you. This is free of charge. 

The only drawback to this process online is that it takes longer than the service you get in person; 2-3 weeks to be precise. 

Samsung also has an exchange program like this, and you can do it at any authorized Samsung store. 

Now if you hand over your phone to the manufacturer you may want to backup your data before you do so. 

Make sure you clean your data before you hand over your phone: 

If you give your phone to the manufacturer, you will not have to worry about your data since the company will ensure all information in your phone is deleted. 

You still should make sure your phone is removed of all data before you hand it over. Just to be safe. The company will not take responsibility if your data falls into the wrong hands. 

Our cellphones often contain very important and sensitive data. This is why deleting everything is crucial. Nevertheless, make sure you factory reset your phone, sign out of all the apps, delete all the cookies and saved passwords, and manually check after factory reset 

Sell or donate your phone: 

If your phone is still working well, you can consider donating it or selling it.You can sell your cell phone at eBey or Craigslist online. Or you can sell it at a local second-hand electronics shop. 

Keep an eye on local community pages on social media. Facebook marketplace is a way to sell your electronics as well. 

If you want to donate your cell phone instead, there are multiple nonprofit organizations across the world that take old electronics and distribute them to people in need. An organization called Computers with Causes, is an example. This organization has made a reputation for helping local communities and institutions in the United States by offering donated electronics like laptops, desktops, cell phones, tablets. 

This is a great organization that runs its operation countrywide and works closely with local communities to provide quality electronics to libraries, schools, museums, and many other institutions. 

One of their key goals is to minimize the waste of good electronics by reusing them. Electronic waste occupies significant areas in landfills and has very dire consequences for the environment. It is each of our duties to reuse and recycle our devices to minimize the harmful impacts discarded electronics have on our world. 

Recycle your phone: 

Due to a slew of changes in regulations and increasing public awareness, recycling cell phones is becoming the norm when the device reaches its end of life. If your phone is broken or dead, you should recycle it. There is a service in the United States called call2recycle which takes your used phones and rechargeable batteries off your hands. There are many programs all over the globe like this one, where you can arrange a drop off or a pick up of dead cell phones. 

Big chain stores like Staples, Target, or Best Buy have recycling programs where you can easily drop off your phone free of charge. Most states in the US has rules that require these stores as well any store that sells cell phones to accept dead phones for recycling free of charge. 

Make sure you do not throw out your cell phone in the curbside recycling. A cell phone contains complicated circuits and components which is impossible for a normal recycling program to recycle properly. These devices’ design flaws require specialized facilities to extract reusable elements from them. 

Throwing cellphones can also cause irreparable damage, cellphones are considered e-waste and their lithium ion battery is a potential hazard for waste workers. 

Why not just throw it? 

It is very irresponsible to throw your cellphone in the garbage. The batteries in these phones are known to cause explosions if there is any damage to them, or if they are exposed to excessive heat. Lithium ion batteries are a known cause of landfill fires and you must avoid throwing them out in the trash. 

Apart from the hazards of the cell phone battery, cell phones contain precious metals like gold, silver, and chromium which can all be recycled. If you throw out your phone you are actively causing more metals to be mined out. Mining is a major cause of pollution as well as carbon emissions. 

Apart from these aspects, metals are a finite resource and all indicators predict that these will not last for many years if we continue to throw away electronics. Cell Phones specifically contain unique elements to make and at current rate we will not have enough cellphones for the human population in a few decades. 

There are toxic chemicals in phones as well, such mercury and lead. The LCD screens on phones contain mercury which is lethal for humans. In landfills, these chemicals will leach into the soil and poison nearby animals. There is a possible risk of these chemicals reaching the human food source and causing serious public health issues. 

Recycling electronics is extremely important and we need to consider all the implications of throwing them in the trash before we do so.  

Conclusion: 

Phones are considered electronic waste and it is extremely important that they are disposed of properly, otherwise the environment suffers due to improper disposal. This article will go over why it’s important to dispose of phones properly, what the safe methods of disposal are, and what is to be done before disposal. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): How to Dispose of Old Phones

How do you dispose of old mobile phones?

Your first consideration should be to sell them or donate them if they are still working. If the phone is dead or broken, you can recycle it via the manufacturer or a local electronic recycling program. 

Can I put my old phone in the recycling bin?

No, you cannot put your old phone in the curbside recycling program. For electronics such as your phone, you have to either take it to a store with an e-waste receptacle or give it to an e-waste recycling company. 

Are old phones a danger to the landfills? 

Yes, cell phones are made of LCD displays. LCD displays contain mercury, besides this phones contain many poisonous chemicals and heavy metals such as lead and cadmium. These can leach into the soil and poison the nearby groundwater.

Moreover, the lithium batteries in the cell phones are a fire hazard and these are known to cause fires in landfills. 

Can I recycle my old phone? 

Yes, there are special electronic waste recycling programs where you can send your old phone for recycling. Manufacturers like Apple or Samsung collect old devices, often for a cash amount or gift card. 

Does my old phone contain harmful chemicals?

Yes, cell phones are made of LCD displays. LCD displays contain mercury, besides this phones contain many poisonous chemicals and heavy metals such as lead and cadmium.

Can I sell my old phone? 

Yes, if your phone is functional you can sell it on eBay or Craigslist. There are many local sites where second hand goods can be sold. There are many social media pages and groups which help locals sell their used products for a reasonable price. 

References: 

  1. Mobile phones | Recycle Now. (2022). Retrieved 24 February 2022, from https://www.recyclenow.com/what-to-do-with/mobile-phones-0
  2. Never Get Rid of an Old Phone Without Doing These 6 Things First. (2022). Retrieved 24 February 2022, from https://www.rd.com/article/cell-phone-recycling/
  3. Nast, C. (2022). How to Erase, Destroy, and Reuse Old Hard Drives and Phones. Retrieved 24 February 2022, from https://www.wired.com/story/gadget-disposal-safe-secure/
  4. 10 places to recycle your cell phone. (2022). Retrieved 24 February 2022, from https://www.techrepublic.com/article/10-places-to-recycle-your-cell-phone/
  5. Planning to upgrade a device this holiday season? Here’s how to recycle your old one. (2022). Retrieved 24 February 2022, from https://www.cnet.com/tech/mobile/recycle-your-old-laptops-phones-cameras-and-batteries-for-free-heres-how/
  6. (2022). Retrieved 24 February 2022, from https://www.consumerreports.org/recycling/how-to-recycle-electronics-a7432818850/
  7. Why and How To Recycle Your Old Mobile Phone. (2022). Retrieved 24 February 2022, from https://earth911.com/eco-tech/recycle-old-phone/
  8. 3 Ways to Get Rid of an Old Cell Phone – wikiHow. (2022). Retrieved 24 February 2022, from https://www.wikihow.com/Get-Rid-of-an-Old-Cell-Phone
  9. How to Recycle Old Cell Phones. (2022). Retrieved 24 February 2022, from https://www.treehugger.com/cell-phone-recycling-5190577
  10. Computer Donation | Donate Computers to Charity | Nonprofit. (2022). Retrieved 24 February 2022, from https://www.computerswithcauses.org

What was missing from this post which could have made it better?

Leave a Comment