id=“article-body“ class=“row“ section=“article-body“>

recycle-phones-9932-007

What do you do with your phone when it’s served its purpose? We’ll give you some options.

Josh Miller/CNET

Gadgets can pile up over the years — new ones come out, old ones break. You probably have a drawer full of old batteries and cables, and some old phones, laptops and desktops lying around, which may only be growing larger if you’ve replaced any of your electronics over the holidays. Perhaps you keep them for nostalgic reasons (I admit I hung onto my first Nokia block phone to „show my kids one day“), or because you thought you might be able to use them again down the line. 

Be brave. Stay focused. Peek into your drawers, the garage or a dark corner of your closet, and you’re sure to find a pile of electronics you really don’t need.

Whatever the tech, when it’s finally time to say goodbye, there’s a right way to dispose of your old gadgets — and a lot of wrong ways. I’ll help you out.

Read more: Best places to sell your used electronics in 2021

What should I do before I get rid of my device?

When you’re finished a gadget, make sure it’s also finished with you. Even though it might be old, someone just needs a charger to reboot your old phone or computer to get to your personal data.

The moral of this story: Make sure to back up anything you want off the device — photos, videos, songs — and then perform a factory reset. Don’t worry, we’ll give you pointers on wiping your device in the sections on phones, laptops and cameras below.

All those dead batteries

There are a couple ways you can properly dispose of the single-use and rechargeable batteries, like AA, AAA and D-cell batteries that are common in flashlights, toys and other household electronics.

Best Buy, Whole Foods, Home Depot, Lowes and Staples all have free drop-off spots to take dead batteries off your hands. I suggest collecting your used batteries in a container and taking them in when it gets full.

You could also check out Earth911, a website that helps you find the nearest recycling location based on the type of battery you need to dispose of (for instance, alkaline, button cell, lithium, zinc-air). Call2Recycle can also help you find places to recycle your batteries.

RCD_3212_copper_bearing_output(Large)_1.JPG

E-waste can have a second life after professional recyclers extract copper and other valuable materials.

Sims Recycling Solutions

How to recycle phones

Phones and their batteries are some of the easiest electronics to recycle, according to Call2Recycle.

Remember to transfer any data and photos on your old phone to a new phone, or otherwise save your photos before performing a factory reset. Remember to remove the SIM card, if it’s still there.

The company accepts all phones and batteries regardless of size, make, model or age. Call2Recycle can refurbish the device for resale or recycle the materials for a new device. If you look hard enough, you can even get paid for recycling your phone.

If your phone is new enough, you may be able to trade it in to a carrier if you’re buying a new phone, or sell it on the open market. Otherwise, if it’s lost a lot of value, recycling may be your best bet for getting a dusty phone off your hands.

Read: How to sell or recycle your phone for cash

recycle-old-cables-chargers.jpg

Cables are fair game, too.

Taylor Martin/CNET

Best Buy accepts three phones per household per day, Lowes has recycling centers at every location, Home Depot takes phones up to 11 pounds, and Staples also takes phones.

Whole Foods works with Secure the Call to get 911 emergency-only phones to senior citizens and domestic violence shelters. Just make sure you bring the charger.

You can also donate your gently used phones to Cell Phones for Soldiers. The program helps troops call their families at home for free. Local communities may also take donations as part of a citywide drive.

I also suggest checking with your employer to see how it handles e-waste. You may be able to add a few items to the collection.