The Ultimate Guide to Electronic Device Recycling

Each year Americans throw away nearly 10 million tons of electronic waste. All of these old smartphones, computers, tablets, and other digital devices end up landfills polluting the environment and causing other issues. 

So, what should you do when your old iPhone or other device doesn’t work anymore? You don’t need to keep it in your house for years. Instead, there are several ways to recycle your old device. Not only is it better for the environment, in some cases, you can even get a little bit of money for it too. Don’t expect too much, but you’ll get paid to do the right thing. And what could be better than that? 

Here’s our ultimate guide to electronic device recycling. 

Electronic Device Recylcing

Why Recycling Electronic Devices is Important?

e waste

Old electronics contain some harmful ingredients that can leak out and harm the environment around you. When not properly disposed of, nasty chemicals leak out of the device and into the soil and groundwater. 

More often than not, it’s an issue of out-of-sight and out-of-mind. E-waste is usually shipped to third world countries, which creates serious health risks to the people everywhere. 

Along with this, it’s just wasteful. Studies have shown recycling e-waste can be more productive than mining for minerals. For example, there are 40 to 800 times more gold in used circuits boards than in one metric ton of ore. 

Best of all, there are plenty of places where you can recycle your e-waste for cash or store credit. All you have to do is bring your old devices there, and you’ve done your part. Some stores may offer you credit or a small amount of cash to go along with it. 

Recycle vs. Reuse 

We all remember the “three r’s of recycling:” reduce, reuse, and recycle. Think about this when you recycle your phone. You can take your phone to the e-waste center. But another great way is giving your phone a second life. 

Even if your phone isn’t correctly working or has some issues, there are many places you can sell your phone. These buyers will take old or damaged phones, refurbish them, and sell them to people looking for a more affordable phone. In some ways, it’s better than recycling because much more of the phone can be reused (nearly all of it) versus just selecting components. 

What Happens When You Recycle a Phone?

Broken iPhones

Most of the time, when you recycle anything, it’s broken down into its component and processed into a raw material that can be used again. 

On the simpler side of things, you have products like aluminum cans. The aluminum is collected, cleaned, and then re-melted into molten aluminum. The aluminum then cools and can then be used to create new cans or other products. 

Smartphones and other electronic devices are more complicated. This is why you have to go to specialized e-waste centers. These products need to be dismantled.

From here, precious metals like gold and platinum are collected to make new computer boards, jewelry, and other products. Lithium-ion batteries are also dismantled and generally repurposed into new batteries. 

Plastics are separated and melted down and can be made into bottles, packaging, and other things, including as parts for new phones. 

Should I Recycle or Re-sell?

Recycling e-waste is much better than letting it end up in a landfill. But if people can reuse a product for another few years, it is much better for the environment. You can’t recover everything when you recycle. Some parts often need to be thrown away because they can’t be recycled. 

If your old device still has some life in it, it’s much better to sell it to somebody who can repurpose it to extend its life. Damaged old phones can get new screens or batteries and everything else they need to work well enough for somebody else. 

Where Can I Go to Resell/Recycle Electronic Device? 

Most cities and towns have an e-waste collection site. You can check your local area. In some cases, you may have to pay a small disposal fee. For this reason, you’re better off going with one of these better options: 

1) Best for Smartphones: Buyback Boss 

Buyback Boss Recycling Program

Buyback Boss makes it easy for you to recycle your old smartphone, tablet, and some computers. It’s super easy to use. Just select your phone and the condition it’s in, and you’ll get an instant quote for how much the phone is worth. 

From here, you print out a free shipping label and send your device to them. You can receive payment via PayPal or check in the mail within ten days. They’ll accept your phone even if it’s damaged and you get cash for it. It’s easy to do, and you can set it all up from the convenience of your home. 

If you don’t see your device listed, contact Buyback Boss via email. They’ll generate a custom quote for you. 

2) Best for Big Electronics: Best Buy 

Best Buy Recycling Program

Best Buy is the largest retail recycler of e-waste in the US. They take all kinds of products regardless of the condition, manufacturer, or when and where you bought it. They also offer an affordable $19.99 pickup service for larger products like TVs and appliances, as well as computers, tablets, games, and other devices. 

Your e-waste product may even qualify for trade-in credit. Click here to see what you can get from them. 

3) Best for Quickness: ecoATM 

ecoATM Recycling Program

You may have seen an ecoATM at a mall near your house. These machines do a quick scan of a product, ask you a few questions, and you’ll get an offer. However, you might not get an offer on everything. With ecoATM, you’re paying for convenience. You won’t get the best deal, but it’s an excellent way to dispose of old products quickly like: 

  • Android tablet devices
  • Amazon readers like Kindle Fire
  • Motorola cell phones and smartphones
  • iPhones
  • Broken iPhones
  • Other Apple products
  • HTC cell phones and smartphones
  • Blackberry personal data devices
  • Samsung Devices 

Last year, ecoATM reached a milestone of recycling over 21 million devices since its founding. 

4) Best For Prime Fans: Amazon 

Amazon Recycling Program

You can recycle your old devices with Amazon in a couple of ways. Like Best Buy, Amazon offers a trade-in program that covers an extensive range of books, games, devices, and other products. 

Amazon ranks in the middle in terms of value for trade-in items. But they do cover a wide variety of products like Kindles or smart home devices, and you can use the trade-in credit on anything on Amazon compared to just electronics at Best Buy. 

If your product isn’t eligible for trade-in, Amazon also has an e-waste recycling program. Any Amazon product can be shipped for free for recycling back to them. You can also drop anything off at a UPS store. 

Two other good online options are DeCluttr and Gazelle, which sometimes offer better trade-in values compared to Amazon. 

5) Best for Office Needs: OfficeMax and Office Depot

Office Depot Recycling Program

Office Depot and OfficeMax have Recycling Reward Programs. They accept a variety of electronic devices. But the real gem for business users is the $2 printer cartridge credit for each cartridge returned to them. You can get up to 10 per month and get paid out in a reward certificate via your online dashboard. 

Bonus: AT&T Reuse and Recycle

AT&T’s Reuse and Recycle program allows you to bring unwanted phones, accessories, and batteries regardless of manufacturer or carrier. If you’re feeling guilty about cords, cases, and adaptors lying around your house, it’s a great option. And you don’t even have to buy anything, just drop it off there. 

AT&T, like the other carriers, also offers a trade-in program for smartphones, but these usually require a contract commitment with them. 

Everything You Need to Know About Electronic Device Recycling

Recycling your electronic devices isn’t just the right thing to do; it’s also super straightforward. For smartphones you can use services like Buyback Boss to not only recycle your device for free but even get cash for it. With Best Buy and other retailers, you can drop off anything for free the next time you buy something there. Regardless of what type of e-waste you have, there’s an easy way to dispose of it. 

So, don’t throw away your e-waste. Do your part for the environment and use one of these great solutions instead! 

Learn more about recycling and phone buyback programs on the Buyback Boss blog. Here’s everything you need to know about whether AT&T’s program is worth it. Discover everything you need to know about smartphones, technology, apps, and more when you check it out right now!