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How To Recycle Your Old Cell Phones

How To Recycle Your Old Cell Phones


I’ll bet you’ve got a collection of used cell phones tucked away in either a desk drawer or one of your kitchen drawers. We sure do – or more accurately now, we did.

Like most people, we have a junk drawer in the kitchen that is a repository of all sorts of gizmos and gadgets. The other day, I was casting around for something to do as I was feeling antsy. When I’m in that kind of mood, I usually clean up or organize something. I spied the junk drawer and bingo, went to work on it.

Well, what a treasure trove. Four cell phones – two cute Bell flip phones circa 2014 or thereabouts, a Sony Experia M I hated, and my partner’s ageing iPhone 5, plus their respective chargers. Talk about taking up space.

Add to that our two landline phones – one being a touchtone desktop model circa 1980s occupying too much real estate on my desk, and the other a more recent portable phone that sits in a cradle charger taking up valuable kitchen countertop space. These have now been eliminated from our repertoire and the landline disconnected because I, yes, moi, am now for the first time ever, the proud owner of an iPhone. “About time” you say? So says I.

I’ve chucked all of those old phones into a big paper bag that’s waiting by the front door, ready for their next adventures. I want to recycle them for others to use or at the very least, be disposed of in an ecologically and environmentally responsible way. I want my old tech to be turned into something good.

A Trip to the Recyclers

If your mobile phone provider doesn’t accept old phones for repair or recycling, it’s a job you’ll have to tackle yourself. Recycling your mobile device is often the best option for disposing of them. Simply throwing them in the trash can be harmful to the environment, for starters. And anyway, wouldn’t you rather recycle yours in a way which benefits others less fortunate than you?

By recycling your electronics through a bonafide recycling program, you can share a valuable communications tool with someone else. Some recyclers even pay you cash for your items which you, in turn, could donate to a charitable organization or the cause of your choice.

The following are three of the many ways to recycle your old phone(s) and other electronics.

1. Recycle My Cell

Support some great causes and be kind to the environment using Recycle My Cell. This organization is a Canada-wide recycling program for mobile devices. Drop your old phone off at one of their locations or print out a prepaid shipping label and mail it in. Be sure to remove your SIM card and wipe your device clean of all personal information before recycling. You’ll find instructions on their website.

2. Free Geek

Originating in Portland, Oregon this group has expanded to include Canadian locations in Vancouver and in Toronto. They’re a non-profit that aims to increase access to technology by offering training and employment opportunities and to reduce the environmental impact of said technology. You can recycle cell phones as well as most computers and computer-related hardware through their operation.

3. Bell Blue Box Program

Recycle your old phones through the Bell Blue Box program available in most Canadian cities. Their site answers all your questions regarding how to clear your phone of all personal data and prepare it for recycling such as removing the SIM card and, if necessary, cancelling service to the phone if you’re not transferring over to a new one with the same provider. Additionally, Bell donates the net proceeds from the Bell Blue Box program to mental health initiatives across Canada.

Ready to Go

I’ve followed all the ‘how to recycle’ instructions for all four cell phones, and they’re clean as a whistle and ready to go. I’ll be dropping them off at the local Bell Blue Box Program here in our neck of the woods. As for the two landline phones, dated but still functional, I’ll be donating them to a women's shelter who’re always in need of items in good condition.

Now to tackle our collection of used laptops, an old printer and an out-of-date scanner. Erg!



About the author

Creativity and energy define recent retiree Allyson Dawson. Along with a multitude of interests and hobbies that includes illustration, painting, graphic design, food and wine, tennis and world travel, she’s the principal blog contributor at Everything Retirement. Her more than 400 posts (to date) combine careful research with humour, imagination and insights that define today’s retirement lifestyle.