phones recycling 0949

Keep Your Old Tech Out of the Trash: How to Recycle Old Gadgets for Free

New phones, tablets and laptops are released every year. You upgrade your technology, and your old machine is relegated to your household gadgets graveyard. You probably have a drawer full of old batteries and cables, and some old phoneslaptops and desktop computers, depending on how often you upgrade your equipment.

CNET Tech Tips logo

We all cling to outdated technology for our own reasons – I still have my first Nokia block phone Tucked away for nostalgia. There are also multiple ways to Reuse old devices for you smart homeand use it security cameras and more.

Whatever the technology, when it’s finally time to say goodbye, there’s a right way to get rid of your old hardware — and there are plenty of wrong ways. We’ll show you what it is.

What to do before disposing of the device

When you’re done with your gadget, make sure it’s finished with you, too. Make sure to back up anything you want off the device — photos, videos, songs — and then do a factory reset. Here are some CNET articles to help explain the finer points of device scanning:

Here are the best places here in the US to recycle, reuse, or give new life to your old technology.

Smartphone recycling

Smartphone Recycling lets you print a free FedEx shipping label or order a recycling kit. Charge your old smartphone and you might get paid, depending on the condition and age of the device. Smartphone Recycling accepts devices in bulk, so you’ll need to charge at least 10. Depending on how long you’ve been storing phones, you may meet that quota yourself. If not, check in with friends and family and make this a team effort.

Two smart watches and five old phones

If you give in to the siren song of the latest gadget, even if your current device isn’t on the last stop, we’re not here to judge.

Woot/Screenshot from CNET

What you can recycleSmartphone recycling accepts smartphones, cell phones, MacBooks, tablets, iPhones, iPads, iPods, and Apple Watches, as well as batteries connected to or installed in devices.

best buy

Best Buy accepts a wide range of tech products and generally takes three items per home per day. Specifications may vary depending on where you live, but you can check the drop-down list of state-specific recycling information on the site.

Best Buy also offers a remote option for larger appliances like televisions, dishwashers, freezers, microwave ovens, treadmills, and exercise bikes. If you order a new product, Best Buy will take your old product for recycling. There is also an independent transmission option that costs $200. You can drag apart two large items as well as an unlimited number of small items, with a few exceptions.

What you can recycleBest Buy can take TVs, cables, chargers, media players, projectors, laptops, hard drives, webcams, cell phones, calculators, radios, landlines, headphones, vacuums, fans, ink and ink cartridges, alarm clocks, electronic speaker systems, e-readers, video game consoles, memory cards, cameras Video, digital cameras, GPS devices and more.

Four Amazon Fire HD 8 tablets in different colors

If you don’t want to recycle your tablet, there are places to donate technology.

Amazon

paper clip

Office supply store Staples also offers free recycling options for old technology. Staples accepts up to seven items per customer per day. The company also has several pick-up, driver-assisted and pallet pick-up options, as well as prepaid address labels available.

What you can recycleStaples: Staples can recycle accessories, adapters, cables, computers, cell phones, cordless phones, digital cameras, laptops, routers, tablets, webcams, ink, toner, and other office tech items.

Home Depot

Home Depot has an explanation on its website on how to safely dispose of dead batteries, old paint, electronics, and other items, as well as tips for recycling and reuse. According to RecycleStuff.org, services are delivered to residential customers only.

What you can recycle: According to RecycleStuff.org, Home Depot accepts household alkaline batteries (AA, AAA, C, D, 9V), lithium-ion batteries, nickel-cadmium batteries, rechargeable home batteries, cell phones and LED light bulbs.

US Environmental Protection Agency

The EPA doesn’t handle recycling and delivery the same way other companies do, but it does have a handy guide that makes it easy to get the information you need. The EPA guide breaks down donation and recycling by electronic device, company name, logo, and any additional details.

What you can recycle: Again, the EPA guide links you to specific companies and their policies, but depending on the list, you can recycle and donate mobile devices, computers, televisions, as well as photography equipment and supplies.

Electronics Recovery Alliance

Like the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Electronics Take-Back Alliance makes it easy to find US manufacturers take-back programs. You can browse summaries of recovery software for more than 25 companies, including Acer, Apple, Dell, HP, Lenovo, Panasonic, Sony, and more.

The Electronics Recovery Alliance does not handle recycling, but they can direct you to the right resource for your needs.

What you can recycle: Depending on the company, you can find places to drop off iPhones, iPads, smartphones, monitors, computers, printers, keyboards, mice, DVD and VHS players, cameras, televisions, and more.

An open Acer Chromebook on a table

Your laptop can be recycled, donated, or reused. We’ll tell you where to look.

Josh Goldman/CNET

Eco ATM

EcoATM gives you an estimate of the price of your old phone which you can lock into the phone app using your old device’s IMEI number. EcoATM will ask a few questions about your device such as brand, model, memory, carrier, and condition before creating a quote. From there, you can visit one of the organization’s kiosks located at stores like Kroger, Walmart, and Dollar General.

What you can recycle: EcoATM can help with iPhones, Samsung smartphones and tablets, MP3 players, Google Pixel phones, LG phones and tablets, Motorola phones and ZTE phones. You can also recycle chargers and cellular accessories like cases, but you won’t be paid for it.

Earth 911

Earth911 allows you to search by device and zip code to find nearby locations suitable for operating older phones. When you visit the organization’s website, click recycling place at the top of the page to get started. Earth911 works with well-known companies like Lowe’s and Target, as well as local waste and recycling centers.

What you can recycle: Earth911 will help you find recycling locations, but will also indicate which materials the site accepts, whether it allows delivery or collection for residential or commercial premises, along with any additional information.

Recycle for charity

Recycle for Charity accepts tech donations, but gives a percentage of the device’s value to the charity of your choice. Scroll through the directory of charities, select one, enter the required information and click Donate. Charities receive between 25 cents and $100 of your items.

What you can recycle: Cordless cell phones and corresponding batteries, iPhones, wireless pagers, digital cameras, iPods, PDAs, and Palm Pilots.

Call2Recycle

Call2Recycle is a battery focused recycling software. The organization offers delivery options at locations like Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Staples, as well as battery and cell phone charger boxes. Deliveries are free, but recycling kits and shipping boxes cost between $45 and $115, depending on size.

What you can recycle: rechargeable nickel-cadmium, nickel-metal hydride, lithium-ion, nickel-zinc, and small sealed lead-acid batteries weighing up to 11 lbs. Call2Recycle also accepts single use batteries such as AA, AAA, 9V, C and D batteries and cell batteries up to 11 lbs. The organization also accepts cell phones and their corresponding batteries regardless of size, make, model or age.

For more information, check out Five Things You Can Recycle (And Five Things You Can’t Recycle) and The right way to recycle plastic And the Tips and tricks for recycling tin cans.