How To Recycle Your iPhone and Why It Matters

by Megan Kioulafofski
recycle iPhone

With more and more people choosing to live eco-friendly and searching for green living solutions, “how to recycle iPhones” is something many of you wonder about.

But before getting into that, let’s see what the numbers are telling us:

    • Estimates show that up to 9 million iPhones are retired from active use by owners who upgrade to newer models. Other stats show that the average person living in the West uses their smartphone for only two years before discarding it and getting a new one.
    • With an average lifespan in the lower 80s, the average American will own approximately 35 phones in their lifetime. 
    • Of the millions of devices that are deemed obsolete by their owners, only a small fraction of iPhones were traded in, even though many devices still had a resale value.

With such numbers as the ones listed above, and questions like “does Apple recycle old iPhones” or “what parts of an iPhone can be recycled”, knowing how to dispose of an old iPhone makes a lot of sense. Both for your bank balance, and the environment.

So let’s dive in!

Why Recycling Your Old iPhone Matters

Electronic waste is a huge problem in modern society. Some studies assert that up to 2 percent of all waste in landfills is electronic. 

Doesn’t sound like such a huge number?

Well, estimates have suggested that up to 70% of all toxic waste in landfills is made up of electronic chemicals.

But if you need more convincing, the following are some of the main reasons to recycle your iPhone:

    • Reduce Contamination – By recycling your electronic products you help keep dangerous toxins like mercury, lead, and arsenic from leaching into groundwater.
    • Reduce exploitation of resources – Recycling a million phones can recover over 770 pounds of silver, 75 pounds of gold, and 35 thousand pounds of copper. 
    • Reduce the environmental cost – Mining destroys habitats and natural landscapes. By recycling, you can play a part in reducing the demand for minerals and mining. 
    • Make some moneyApple and several other organizations will pay you to sell your old tech to them. So you can make some cash, depending on your device’s condition.

How To Recycle Your iPhone

Okay, so we have established that there are several benefits to recycling your old iPhone. The next question you might be asking yourself now, is how to go about doing this process. 

There are several options when looking for how to dispose of an old iPhone that’s either broken or obsolete. 

These include:

Sell to Manufacturer Take-Back and Recycling Schemes

Most of the big-name manufacturers, including Samsung, Apple, and LG, have free recycling and take-back programs. These schemes allow you to sell your old device back to the manufacturer. 

For your iPhone device, Apple allows you to take your old smartphone or Mac to any of its stores, or send it to the company via mail.   

Apple will typically offer a gift card for those looking to recycle their phones. You can use this card to make another purchase of an Apple product of your choice. The gift card will be the equivalent to the value of the submitted device. 

By selling your device back to Apple, you can be certain that it will be recycled. The company has invested into a robot that disassembles devices into its component parts and uses them on new iPhones.

how to dispose of an old iPhone at Christmas

Gift Your Used iPhone to a Loved One

If you are thinking about how to recycle an iPhone, why not offer it as a gift to a loved one.

With Apple releasing new iterations of the iPhone every year, it is understandable that you want to have the latest model. You can’t be seen wearing an iPhone 10, when the 11 is the coolest product on the market. 

But the thing is your old phone may still be in great condition. And, it can still offer some value to someone else. An old-fashioned iPhone may just be what a friend or family member may need.

So once you have removed your memory cards and done a factory reset on the device, you can give it to someone instead of throwing it away. 

How To Dispose Of Old iPhones By Using E-Cycling Facilities

If you want to know how to recycle iPhone parts without going to product manufacturers, you can always use e-cycling facilities. 

Most states now have recycling programs and policies that govern the disposal of smartphones. For instance, every store that sells smartphones in California or New York has to take back the phone for recycling. 

Many states will typically have either a list of recyclers or a searchable database. If you look over them you can select the recycler that is nearest to you, or the one that best suits your needs. 

If you are unable to find an e-cycling facility near you, there is always the option of searching online for one.  

Take It Back To The Store Or Sell To The Carrier

In some instances, it can be inconvenient having to send back your devices to the manufacturer. Luckily, you no longer have to go back to the store to have your old iPhone recycled

Retail stores such as Best Buy have tons of stores in almost all states in the US. They will take back your defunct iPad, iPhone, or other electronic devices to be disposed of ethically. 

Staples also offers a comprehensive iPhone and iPad recycle program that will earn you Staples credit for any relatively new and still working device you submit to their stores. 

You can also make use of local carrier recycling schemes from the likes of Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, or T-Mobile. All of them will offer credit for any relatively new and working devices you have.  

Another great option is TerraCycle, they accept tons of waste not normally accepted by your local pickup, and they even pay for your shipping label too.

terracycle ewaste trading program

How To Recycle Your iPhone and Help Your Community

While it does feel good to get some money or credit for your things, you could feel even better if you donated to a good cause. Not only does this type of recycling benefit the environment, but it also helps people in need.

If you are searching for charities in the US, there are several places you can look at. 

For example sites such as Recycling for Charities will allow you to mail in your old iPhone. You can then select which charity should receive the proceeds from the sale of your device. 

Organizations such as American Cell Phone Drive make it possible to find charity recycling initiatives in your locale by inputting your zip code. 

Other organizations you could try include Cell Phones for Soldiers and National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, among many others. All these will be more than happy to take your device and help the people in need. 

Wrapping Up

With the EPA estimating that more than 125 million phones are thrown away by Americans each year, the amount of annual e-waste generated exceeds 65,000 tons. 

This means that recycling has never been more important!

E-waste takes up limited space in landfills, while the toxic chemicals leaking pose risks to human health and the environment’s safety.

By knowing how to recycle iPhones and understanding the importance of doing this, fewer raw materials will need to be processed and extracted. Electronic recycling reduces your impact on the environment, while also putting money in your pocket, or in the pockets of people in need. 

Know someone who got a new phone? Share this article with them! If you found our post useful and you’re interested in learning more about how to live zero waste, feel free to reach out

We’ll be happy to discuss with you more and help you out on your zero waste living journey.

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