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How Should I Dispose of My Old Cell Phone?

Salvagers and refurbishers buy old cell phones and either strip them and sell the components, or fix them and sell them at low cost.
Disposing of old cell phones in the trash is illegal in some places because the batteries may contain toxic chemicals.
Many local organizations or charities collect old or unwanted cell phones.
Old cell phones can be donated to charity for recycling.
Article Details
  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 04 October 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
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Before you throw that old cell phone in the trash, or hide it away in a drawer, think again. There are actually many ways to safely and charitably dispose of a mobile phone that you are no longer using. First, you should be aware that in many places, throwing away cell phones is actually illegal because the batteries — especially in very old phones — can contain toxic metals. There are better places to get rid of them than your trash can.

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.

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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.

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Discuss this Article

anon349749
Post 8

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

XanderP
Post 7

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.

anon45108
Post 5

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.

anon41250
Post 4

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.

EBecker247
Post 2

Are some accessories hazardous waste and others not?

Grammmmm
Post 1

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!

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