How to Recycle an Old Cell Phone

How can you get rid of an old phone and ensure that its toxic components don’t end up in a landfill? Consider recycling it through one of these free and easy services.

| June 19, 2007

  • Recycle Cell Phone


  • Recycle Cell Phone

In a drawer, on a dusty shelf: Somewhere in your home, you probably have a graveyard of old electronics. At the least, you likely have an old cell phone, which is the electronic device being retired most frequently, according to Consumers Union.

More than 750 million cell phones lie unused in the United States, and the small devices can have big effects on our health if, when evicted from the drawer, they are disposed of in landfills instead of recycled properly. Like computers and televisions, cell phones contain lead and mercury, two elements that cause damage to the brain and peripheral nervous system if they enter our water supply via landfills.

So how can you get rid of an old phone and ensure that its toxic components don’t end up in a landfill? Consider recycling it through one of the following free and easy services. 

Best Buy
Most Best Buy stores have recycling kiosks located near the front entrance where shoppers can drop off cell phones, pagers, ink cartridges and batteries to be recycled in accordance with the Environmental Protection Agency’s electronic waste standards.

Call to Protect
Proceeds from the sale of donated cell phones go to organizations fighting domestic violence, and phones that can be reused are given to domestic violence survivors. You can mail your phone and its accessories to Call to Protect, or find a nearby drop-off location. Donated phones are tax deductible. 

The Trio You choose a charity to receive the value of your unwanted phone from a list of more than 500 organizations. If you would like to receive a donation acknowledgement from your chosen charity, you must include your contact information when registering on the site. If you prefer not to send a phone yourself, you can take it to a drop-off at any Staples or FedEx Kinko’s in the United States.

Chanel N
5/20/2009 2:33:50 AM

This advocacy can help in preserving our Mother Earth. Cell for cash sounds like a good idea. Cell for Cash is not a typo, but a service. Their website,, is a cellular phone recycling service, where you get a cash reward for handing in your old cell phone. Some phones go for over $100, about the size of most small quick payday loans. Other companies have sprung up that have similar services, and it isn't surprising – cellular phones add up to about 65,000 tons of waste per year. Think of it as installment loans for the earth if you use Cell for Cash to recycle your old phone.

nancy frederick
10/13/2007 12:00:00 AM

My immediate concern is the disposal of OTC and prescription medications. A request to donate containers for use in third world countries prompted a call to my drugstore. I was told that flushing is no longer advised but "wrap pills and put them in the garbage". Whoopie!Anyone concerned enuf to see this knows how ridiculous that is.Believe that drug companies should come up with a way for the public to dispose of or neutralize old drugs. Any help here ??Nancy - Oct.13,2007

Dell Thomason
6/29/2007 12:00:00 AM

We have a cell phone mostly for insurance against getting stranded somewhere on the road. It did happen to me once when I was going out of town to a radiation treatment early in the morning and didn't know that the highway had become icy between the two towns and was impassable. I was able to (1) reschedule my treatment, (2) let my family know I was okay, (3) let a fellow traveler borrow it, as he was en route to his work and was going to be very late. He didn't have a cell phone! Also, sometimes our land line is down, and we can call the phone company on the cell phone. If family is traveling to meet at a designated place and somebody gets lost, they can check in and get directions. These are worth the cost. We don't use a plan with a company. There are too many gimmicks. We bought a phone at Wal-Mart which just uses the prepaid minutes on a phone card. And as we don't use the call phone to chat, we have been most pleased with the setup. I think even with making the occasional call when on the road, we never spend more than $5-10 a month--much less than buying a plan. Don't want to be without it! When we are traveling and family needs to contact us, it's taken care of. Btw, the driver does NOT talk on the phone! That's the job for the person riding shotgun.

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