Cell phones are literally exploding in junkyards and dump trucks, so don’t be that guy who throws yet another device into the trash or the recycling bin. That’s right, you can’t just toss it into the blue bin and hope for the best.
Call2Recycle, a national recycling program, estimates that two thirds of California’s waste facility fires in 2017 were caused by explosions in old lithium ion batteries. That’s because recycling facilities don’t have the capacity to take apart the old handsets, so they’re tossed, instead.
You can take the old phones to a local Goodwill store, which will, in turn, find a recycling partner that can help. Usually these are going to be third party companies that specialize in electronics refuse, so don’t worry about your data—most places will wipe it before taking it apart.
If there’s a specific cause that you’re passionate about, there’s a good chance there’s an accompanying organization that will take your old phone and put it to good use. Here are a few:
–National Coalition Against Domestic Violence: The organization accepts cell phone donations, which it then recycles through a partner organization, Cellular Recycler. The Coalition receives a portion of the proceeds raised through refurbished cell phone sales, helping to fund its programming.
–Secure the Call: This nonprofit helps vulnerable people without access to emergency services by collecting old phones and then shipping them out to agencies who can redistribute the phones to senior citizens, people suffering from domestic violence and more. All cell phones, even if they’re not activated on a carrier plan, can call 911 (we all pay monthly fees as part of our phone bill to keep this program alive). To print a shipping label to send in your old phones, click here.
-Cell Phones for Soldiers: The national nonprofit provides emergency services and cost-free communication to soldiers through its program, which takes old mobile phones and recycles them. Find a drop-off location here.