Cell Phone Recycling

Where to Recycle Old Cell Phone Near Me?

Cell phone recycling has never been easier or more convenient. With so many of us upgrading frequently, we need to know how to properly dispose of our outdated, broken or simply unwanted cell phones. Appropriate disposal of your cell phone is crucial; whether that is through donating, recycling, or selling it. Your method of disposal may be different depending on if your cell phone is a smartphone, an old flip cell phone, broken or working. We’ll cover all the categories mentioned and help you decide on the best option.

First and foremost though let’s cover how to prepare your mobile phone for recycling. Some basic tips on preparation for recycling are:

  1. If you have up-graded make sure the cell carrier you use transfers all your data to your new device.
  2. You will want to factory reset your phone to wipe all your data and remove all your personal information from it. For added security in wiping your cell phone you can also remove your SIM card or SD card if it hasn’t already been transferred to your new phone.
  3. If you have an Android take an extra step and encrypt your data, because a factory reset may not entirely wipe your personal data.
  4. If possible you should remove the battery from your cell phone for separate recycling.

Drop Off Locations with Recycling Programs:

There are cell phone drop box recycle bins at many large retailers. Check the list below for a local store with a drop center near you and dispose of that old phone; broken or working. This is a great option for very outdated or broken cell phones without much if any value left in them, also great for convenience as you can simply drop it in on your next shopping visit.

  • Best Buy
  • WalMart
  • Winco
  • Target
  • Staples
  • Kroger
  • Home Depot
  • Safeway
  • Office Depot
  • Lowe’s
  • Radio Shack
  • Batteries Plus

Another avenue is checking with Call2Recycle to locate a drop off center near you. They accept all models of cell phones and batteries for proper recycling.

Phone Recycling Kiosks for Instant Payment

If you want to responsibly dispose of an old cell phone you aren’t using, and make some instant cash, check for a local kiosk machine like ecoATM. EcoATM has over 3,000 kiosk locations throughout the United States. These kiosks accept all major brands of cell phones and tablets even if they are broken in return you’ll get an instant cash payout. They will price your device first and make you an offer, you can accept it or not. Getting paid cash fast is a great incentive to offload your old iPhone, Android, or other device.

To get the absolute most out of selling your old device you may try selling it on your own. Again, be certain you have completely wiped all of your data, encrypted it and removed any SIM or SD cards to protect your personal information. You can try listing it for sale on craigslist or another online marketplace such as eBay. To decide what to list your item for you may want to look at similar listings.

Mail-In Recycling for Mobile Devices

Another option for recycling your cell phone and still making some extra cash is a mail-in program like Gazelle. You can visit their site and enter some basic information to get an immediate quote. They accept all the major brands like: Apple, Google, HTC, LG, Motorola, and Samsung. If you like the offer they will send you a postage paid envelope to send it in. You can get paid by check or through Paypal. Eco Cell is another great company that will accept any phone, any condition as well as game systems, tablets, adaptors, chargers, and other gadgets. They will send you a prepaid postage envelope for your devices. Once they receive them, and calculate the value they will send your payment. They also have several dozen drop off container locations as well.

Cell Phone Donation Drop Off Locations

Yet another great option for keeping your old or broken cell phone out of a landfill is locating a donation center. There are dozens of charity organizations that accept working or non-working cell phones. Donating your phone to a local battered women’s shelter or organization, or to a program like Secure the Call, will help provide basic service cell phones for 911 emergency calls. They also provide emergency cell phones to senior citizens as well.

Cell Phones for Soldiers is another organization that accepts cell phone donations, they sell the phones to a recycler or refurbishing company and use the profits to provide talk time for servicemen stationed overseas, to call home. Each cell phone collected can provide roughly an hour of talk time for our soldiers.

Second Wave Recycling is an organization that partners with other worthy causes like The Wounded Warrior Project. They accept old phones, ipods, MP3 players, tablets, e-readers, handheld gaming devices, smart watches, and even charging cables. Newer functioning devices will be fixed, refurbished and resold, while others are properly recycled.

Mobile Phone Carriers with Trade-in Programs

Your cell phone carrier may have a trade in program that rewards you for bringing in old, unused phones. Phone plans can get quite costly, and getting a discount or credit on a bill is a great benefit while clearing out the clutter of old cell phones and devices, plus you can be assured they are properly recycled and won’t end up in a landfill.

AT&T Trade-in Program – accepts all phones regardless of the carrier or manufacturer. They will send you a prepaid postage envelope if requested, then once they evaluate how much it’s worth you can use the credit towards new tech or services or donate that value to the troops.

Verizon Device Trade-in Program – allows you to trade-in or donate your old device. Depending on the value you may earn an account credit or Verizon wireless gift card. If your device isn’t accepted in the trade-in program, Verizon’s Hopeline will accept any phone for reuse or recycling and be donated along with 3,000 minutes of wireless service to domestic violence organizations.

T-Mobile Device Recycling Program – you can trade-in the old device for credit towards a new one, or simply drop it off to be properly recycled, and come full circle and purchase through their certified pre-owned program.

Sprint Wireless Recycling – the Sprint Buyback Program can score you an account credit, and if your phone is ineligible you can still recycle it through Project Connect, which benefits their 4Net Safety program which is in partnership with the Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Sprint is also the 6th greenest company in the United States, and they have a long list of eligible devices including many they do not even carry themselves.

Boost Mobile – will send you a prepaid shipping label to send in any old phone for recycling to benefit Global Inheritance, which is a non profit that is focused on global environmental and social issues.

Virgin Mobile – you can check your particular phones value on their website before deciding to participate in Virgin mobile recycling, then get free shipping and send it off within 7 days to get quick payment direct to your bank account or choose to donate.

Apple Trade in – you can trade in eligible devices for an Apple gift card you can use anytime. You can check your phones estimated credit value on the Apple website. The manufacturer also accepts devices for recycling if no credit is offered. Read our full article on the Apple Trade In Program.

Cricket Wireless, MetroPCS, and US Cellular – all three partner up with e-waste recycling companies and offer free drop off for proper recycling, but don’t offer any major incentives to their customers.

Cell Phone Recycling Facts

  • Currently only about 10% of cell phones are being recycled which is a dismal number.
  • Cell Phones contain hazardous chemicals such as: lead, mercury, cadmium, and arsenic
  • For every 1 million cell phones recycled we could recover 75 pounds of gold, 772 pounds of silver, 33 pounds of palladium, and over 35,000 pounds of copper. 
  • You can power a laptop for 44 hours with the energy saved from recycling a single cell phone.
  • In the US we could power more than 24,000 homes for an entire year with the energy saved from the 130 million cell phones that are tossed.
  • Recycling a single lithium ion battery from a cell phone can prevent the contamination of up to 60,000 liters of water.


Can I recycle cell phones in my curbside recycling program?

No. You should never put your old cell phone, tablet, or any other electronic device in your curbside recycling bins. Anything with a power cord or battery is considered e-waste and does not belong in your curbside trash receptacle.

Where to get the most cash for old cell phones?

If you want to know how to get top dollar money for that old phone you may need to check a couple of sites, and also take advantage of any promo codes. Both gazelle and ecoATM periodically offer promo codes and incentives to recycle your devices with them, or you can attempt selling it yourself and cut out the middle man.

Can I repair my Phone instead of Recycling?

Obviously this will depend on the issue with your current phone. If the battery is not holding a charge consider purchasing a new battery online. If the screen is cracked that is usually a fairly inexpensive repair and can be done quickly at a local retailer. Professionals can also replace or repair charging ports if that is the problem, water damage is a trickier one. Many times if you seek help right away there is a good chance at salvaging your phone and the data.

Why should I recycle my cell phone?

If you’re looking for a convincing reason to recycle your cell phone simply look at the facts. Cell phones actually contain hazardous materials that should not be dumped into our landfills, and since only about 10% of them are being recycled every year we should be doing our part. Recycling your cell phone saves energy, resources, and prevents the pollution of our air and water.

What happens to recycled mobile phones?

Many of us know we should recycle all of our small electronics, but how does recycling cell phones actually work? Well if your device is not refurbished and resold or donated, then it goes to a specific e-waste recycling center, where it is dismantled and valuable portions are sorted and salvaged. US based e-waste recyclers are held to a higher standard than many other countries where the phones may still end up in a landfill.

What can I do with my old phone case, charger, or accessories?

Many of the above mentioned outlets for recycling also accept chargers, adaptors and even accessories, if the phone case is still in good shape you can consider selling it or donating it as well.

Does Goodwill or Salvation Army accept Cell Phones?

Yes, both Goodwill and the Salvation Army accept small electronic devices, including cell phones. You will definitely want to be certain to encrypt and wipe all of your data before dropping off your donation.