How to recycle your smartphone and batteries

Do you have a new mobile gadget to replace your old one? Got a new phone and now don’t know what to do with the old one? Recycling your old phone is the answer! Got some old batteries in a drawer somewhere collecting dust for no reason? Recycle them!
We break down why recycling cell phones and batteries is important, and this article wouldn’t be complete without an easy-to-follow how-to recycle cell phones and batteries guide.

by Montanna Owens
Row of recycling bins on sidewalk
Recycling your phone is the best choice for the environment ­– and easier than you think!

Why recycle e-waste?

As you might have already gathered from our previous article on recycling your old computer and its parts, e-waste is a huge topic right now especially in terms of sustainability and reusing valuable materials. In the case of phones, they contain very valuable metals and 80% of the periodic table stable elements. This means that recycling phones and batteries directly contribute to the reuse of metals and other materials that would just be sitting around collecting dust.

What is the recycling process of e-waste?

In case you’re a bit curious about this form of recycling that certainly differs from plastics and cardboard, let us tell you how it is actually done! There are many different types of e-waste recycling. Electronic waste is categorized by all things that are electronic, for example, televisions, kitchen appliances, gaming consoles and etc. E-waste is not only limited to computers, phones, and batteries! You can also recycle your car battery; who would’ve known!? The process for recycling electronic waste begins with the e-waste being sorted by type. Next, any functioning parts of the e-waste are removed and whatever is left is what goes through the metal extraction process. Hazardous materials have to be removed from the e-waste, then metals are separated from the remaining waste with a magnet. From there the process continues to extract other reusable materials and metals. Kind of cool right?

Why recycle phones and batteries?

Reusing valuable metals prevents the need to use natural resources to keep producing the same materials. Phones and batteries alike have some hazardous substances in them such as mercury and lead. Recycling these items ensures that they are disposed properly, and any valuable materials can be extracted from them. If you have old phones that you know you won’t use just sitting in a forgotten drawer, they could be repurposed for so many different things! Same goes for old batteries. Many people aren’t sure what to do with batteries once the juice is all gone and resort to simply throwing them away with the regular trash. Trash is usually burned and not separated at treatment facilities; this could cause the release of these toxic substances into the air which is why it is most favorable to recycle these materials.

Where to recycle cell phones

If you recycle your old phones, you could collect some cash in return! EcoATM will take your phone for recycling and give you some money in return based on its value. They accept all phones; however, some phones may have a value of $0 depending on many factors outlined on their website. If you want to know a bit more, the site also tells you how much your old phone might be worth. Call2Recycle lets you check drop-off locations near you to bring your old or unused mobile devices. BestBuy and Goodwill both have recycling programs that you can take part in by going to one of their locations. Got a flip phone from 1999 lying around? Any of these recycling facilities, centers, and businesses would be happy to take it and process it!

How to recycle your cell phone

  1. Save your data. Make sure to save and collect any data, photos, videos, or memories. You don’t want to recycle your phone and then regret it because you forgot to take your memories.
  2. Remove SIM and memory card. Protect your personal information by removing the SIM and memory card to ensure all of your information is removed from the phone.
  3. Wipe the phone clean. You can do this by factory resetting the phone after you have completed the steps before. The factory reset will erase all of your personal data. You can always double check by turning the phone on and checking to make sure everything is gone.
  4. Remove phone case. Make sure to take off the phone case and any other accessories attached to your phone. As we mentioned before, e-waste recycling is specific to electronic waste, so your phone case or other accessories won’t be able to be recycled with the phone.
  5. Decide on a recycling facility. Where you recycle your phone is totally up to you! You can try some of the options listed above.

Where to recycle batteries

If I were you, on a quest to recycle batteries, the first question to come to my mind would be “where can I even find battery recycling near me?” Recycling batteries is quite easy. The hardest part about recycling batteries might be trying to remember where you saved the batteries in the first place. I always keep them in an old cookie tin for when it's time to go recycle. Call2Recycle accepts single-use batteries as well as rechargeable batteries. Many hardware stores will gladly take your old batteries for recycling. You can use the locator on the website of Home Depot or Lowes to find the nearest location to you. From then on, you can drop off your recycle-ready batteries inside. It might also be worthwhile to check with your local city council about drop off points for batteries. Many cities have drop-off locations throughout the city.

How to recycle batteries

  1. Collect your batteries. Gather all of your batteries that are ready to be recycled and make a difference! I am not saying you have to collect them in an old cookie tin, but this might add a little razzle dazzle.
  2. Separate your batteries by type. If you’re sorting batteries used for remote controls or gaming stations, it is best to sort them by single-use or rechargeable as there are different recycling processes for these. The common household batteries for remote controls, toys, and etc. are also known as alkaline batteries. For larger batteries such as one that is strong enough to power your car, this is in a category of its own as it is recycled differently than singly-use and rechargeable batteries.
  3. Decide your recycling facility. This decision is largely going to be based on the type of batteries you have to recycle.
Recycling phones and batteries is very rewarding because it reuses materials that we definitely need and use in everyday life. The device you’re currently reading this article from is powered by the very valuable materials found in recyclable phones and batteries.

Okay, okay, we get it. You’re super excited to go recycle your old phones and batteries and don’t worry –we will leave you to it. First, just let us know what you thought about this article below.

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