Challenge #38: Recycle mobile phones

Recycle old mobile phones.


“If it can’t be reduced, reused, repaired rebuilt, refurbished, refinished, resold, recycled, or composted, then it should be restricted, redesigned or removed from production.”

-Pete Seeger

Hey, folks!

At first, this week’s challenge might sound a bit strange. Can we recycle phones? Are phones trash? They sure are. The rate at which people are changing their phones nowadays, there are huge numbers of old cell phones trashed daily. Unfortunately, many of them end up in ordinary trash.

Probably, each and every one of you has at least one old phone lying around at the bottom of some drawer.  Hopefully, you’ll know exactly what to do with it by the end of this article. 🙂

Why should you recycle old cell phones?

From the scientific point of view we could write about this for hours, however, we’ll try and keep it simple and as straightforward as possible.

So, why should you recycle old phones? There are two main reasons for that and they both result in saving the environment. Basically, all cell phones contain precious materials (such as gold, silver, copper, palladium, and variety of plastics) which can be recycled. That way we save energy and resources that would be used for mining and production processes. It means we do something positive for the environment indirectly.

“The more we recycle, the less we need to mine.”

-Wilfred Visser

Besides the indirect impact we’ve just mentioned above, there is also a direct one. When old phones are recycled properly it means they don’t end up in a landfill where harmful materials (such as lead, arsenic, and mercury) pollute the air, soil, and even drinking water.


Generally speaking, those two reasons are the leading forces why we recycle any products.

Recycle cell phones for cash

Let’s be honest, most of us appreciate every extra dollar. That’s why we’ve decided to answer the question many of you have: Can I get paid for recycling my phone? There are ways, yes. It all depends on the condition of your old phone. If it still works you should be able to get some money.

However, certain mobile companies offer promotions when they give you some additional discount on your new phone if you bring in your old device. That’s something you should ask about when you’ll be buying your new mobile device.

Moreover, in case your old phone still works, you can always try and sell it or trade it for gift cards. Probably the easiest way to do so is online. There are numerous sites you can use: Gazelle, YouRenew, USell, NextWorth, Best Buy Online Trade-In, Amazon, Craiglist, eBay, etc.

old cellphones

You can also try your luck with physical sales and national recycling outlets (EcoATM, RadioShack, Best Buy, GameStop, Costco). If you feel generous enough, you can always give your old working phone to charity.

Nevertheless, also keep in mind that we can do a good thing for the environment if we buy used cell phones instead of buying new ones. Of course, if buying a new phone is something you’d think about in a first place.

Used cell phone facts

Here are some numbers for you to help you understand the problem.

  • Only about 15 % of cell phones are recycled each year.
  • According to EPA, more than 135 million cell phones were trashed in 2010 alone.
  • For about 40 recycled mobile phones, enough energy is saved to power an average household for an entire year.
  • Most users buy new cellphones every 18-20 months.
  • 35,000 pounds of copper, 750 pounds of silver, 50 pounds of palladium, and 70 pounds of gold are yield for every million of recycled cell phones.
  • A single Lithium-Ion battery from a cell phone can be responsible for contaminating as much as 60,000 liters of water.

We think you get the picture.

“I only feel angry when I see waste. When I see people throwing away things we could use.”

-Mother Teresa

To complete this challenge you must recycle, sell or buy at least one old phone.

Take-home points:
  • Recycle old phones – to prevent toxic materials from getting into the environment and to save on material for new phones.
  • You can also sell old cell phones.
  • Don’t keep your old phones at home (most likely you’ll never use them again).
  • Don’t throw old cell phones into an ordinary trash bin!

Have a lovely week.

With love and care,

Good Earthlings

4 thoughts on “Challenge #38: Recycle mobile phones

  1. I never knew there was something called as recycling old phones as well. I have an old phone of mine and was wondering if it was safe to throw it in the bin and came across this post. Well you made everything clear with all the dos and donts neatly set out. Thank you for creating this informative post which helped me in making a better decision.

    • You are more than welcome, Shrey. It’s our pleasure. Stay around.

      Warm regards,

      Good Earthlings

  2. Hi great article. I think it’s great that you have created this post to raise awareness of mobile phone recycling. I must admit that I’ve never recycled my old phones before because I didn’t know you could. After reading your post I will start to recycle my old phones.

    New phones are coming out all the time and therefore people are changing their phones a lot. Recycling them is a great way to help the environment.

    • Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. We really appreciate it. Stay in touch.

      King regards,

      Good Earthlings

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