Virtually everyone owns a phone nowadays. And, with new devices appearing almost every other day, old Android and iPhone smartphones are getting tossed aside more frequently. You can sell mobile phones that are still in good working conditions on sites like Craigslist, eBay, etc.

Alternatively, you can trade it in for something new, re-purpose the phone, donate it to charity, or re-gift a loved one in need. What if it’s damaged beyond repair or completely obsolete? Your first instinct might be to throw it away. Well, don’t do that. This will only contribute to the growing e-waste problem that threatens our environment. Follow this guide on how to get rid of an old phone responsibly.


The right way to get rid of your Samsung Galaxy S4, iPhone 5, or any other old phone is to recycle it. But before we dive into all that, why is it so important to recycle phones?

Phones Release Poisonous Chemicals

Phones contain materials and toxic substances, including chlorine, mercury, bromine, and lead, all of which can contaminate the environment. Exposure to these chemicals can cause organ damage, birth defects, DNA damage, respiratory problems, cardiovascular diseases, and so on. In some rare cases, exposure can be fatal. Humans are exposed to these chemicals through the air and when they enter their food and water supply. E-waste accounts for 70% of overall toxic waste. Once these toxic chemicals are leached into the environment, they can take over 20 years to decompose.

E-waste is increasing

About 50 million phones are replaced every month worldwide, but only 12% is recycled. This means that over 85% of old and broken phones end up in landfills. And, even those who choose to recycle don’t do it responsibly. Some recyclers send e-waste to Asian and African countries, where it’s handled by unprotected workers who end up unwittingly exposed to toxic chemicals.

Recycling Helps To Preserve Natural Resources

The demand for new phones is increasing with each passing day. Recycling allows manufacturing processes to reclaim materials from old or broken phones. This means fewer new materials need to be mined
That being said, let’s take a look at options for recycling your old phone:

Bring It to the Recycler

Plenty of local communities offer options for recycling old electronics. A quick Google search will also show you several sites that accept e-waste for free from households. All you have to do is find out the nearest drop-off location to where you live. Some towns and cities even sponsor collection days for e-waste. As mentioned earlier, not all recyclers get rid of e-waste responsibly. As such, make sure they have third party accreditation. This means that an independent body has reviewed their policies and practices, ensuring they act responsibly.

Return to a Tech Firm

Most retailers and cell phone manufacturers have implemented recycling programs to help dispose of e-waste in an Eco-friendly manner. Options may vary depending on your phone type or location. For more information, check your maufacturer’s website or contact customer support.

Donate It

Charitable organisations can put your old phone to good use. They can sell mobile phones to recyclers and use the proceeds to fund their good work. Check with your local shelters, recreation centres, and senior organisations. A quick Google search will also offer plenty of options. As with taking to a recycler, make sure your phone will be recycled responsibly before you donate it. Remember to get a receipt so you can deduct your donation on your tax return next year.

Your phone holds sensitive information like account numbers, passwords, phone numbers, addresses, photos, and much more. As such, take the necessary steps to wipe it clean to prevent hackers from accessing such data. You can try to use the factory reset. Detailed instructions can be found on the manufacturer’s website or the owners’ manual. Or, you can erase your SIM and SD cards since most devices store information on them.
Ultimately, recycling is the best way to get rid of an old phone while protecting the environment and ensuring the health of future generations. Just be sure to erase data and deal with a certified recycler or a reputable charity organisation.

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