How To Recycle Old iPhones, iPads, and Other Mobile Devices

If you're like us, you've probably asked yourself at one time or another: what do I do with all of these old mobile devices? You know, the Razr you were convinced would go for big bucks on eBay, the "candybar" phone you had before your iPhone, junker Android devices, and maybe even some old iPhones. 

Just as is the case with old cables, there are a lot of things you can do with your legacy mobile devices, and some of them are really cool. Once you go through the obvious “Hand It Off To A Family Member For Whom It Is An Upgrade” and “Possibly Repurpose For Some Other Nifty Project” motions, there are three basic options: Trade-In, Donation, and Recycling.

Trade In

First off, you can trade some things in toward newer things. Apple will accept your old iPod and give you 10% off off a new one at any Apple Retail location. Apple will also accept mail-ins of iPhones, iPads, Macs, or PCs. Send along your info and get an estimate, then receive a gift card (also by mail).

Apple Authorized Reseller PowerMax will also accept those trade in items and give you credit toward a purchase with them, even if you made that purchase in the 60 days before the trade. Other resellers and mobile providers have been known to offer similar programs so if you have one in your area you might see what they offer. There are also sites like Gazelle that will pay to take things off your hands whether they work or not.


If you aren’t looking to trade in or the gear we're talking about is not recent enough to get sold, you might look at charitable donations. Cell Phones for Soldiers is an organization that provides communication options for active-duty and veteran military. (Is that you? Thank you for your service!) HopePhones recycles that phone and funds healthcare programs. Verizon’s HopeLine program donates phones to victims and survivors of domestic abuse so they have reliable means of contacting people and services. Secure The Call is a program that takes in all the phones and cords and batteries and gets everything in shape for other organizations to hand out. All of these are registered nonprofits, so you get a bit of a tax write-off if that matters, but the important thing here is that your phone is going to a good use. 


If you have a device that is just that old (my Palm Vx, cold dead fingers, etc) or perhaps is broken and no longer makes a viable donation, it still doesn’t need to go in the trash. You can recycle at Staples as I mentioned before, and the EPA Search will tell you more about how to recycle based on the manufacturer of the device. If it’s a cell phone, a lot of mobile providers’ stores offer a recycling option, in case a trade-in isn't an option.

So if you already have a pile of cables ready to go, now’s the time to get the old iPods and Razrs and Palm Pilots and have a little sendoff for them. Honestly, what better way to justify* new stuff than by getting rid of a bunch of old stuff to make room for it?

* Your mileage may vary. The Mac Observer is not responsible for any domestic discord resulting from this article.