Keep your old tech out of the trash: how to recycle outdated devices for free

New phones, tablets, and laptops come out every year. You upgrade your technology and your old device is removed to your device graveyard at home. You probably have a drawer full of old batteries and cables, and some old telephoneslaptops and desktops, depending on how often you update your equipment.

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We all cling to outdated technology for our own reasons: I still have my first phone block nokia hidden out of nostalgia. There are also multiple ways to reuse old devices for you smart Houseusing them as security cameras and more.

Whatever the technology, when it’s finally time to say goodbye, there’s a right way to dispose of your old devices, and there are plenty of wrong ways. We’ll show you which is which.

What to do before getting rid of a device

When you’re done with a gadget, make sure they’re done with you, too. Be sure to back up everything you want from your device (photos, videos, songs) and then do a factory reset. Here are some CNET articles to help clarify the finer points of cleaning a device:

Here are the best places here in the US to recycle, reuse, or breathe new life into your old tech.

smartphone recycling

smartphone recycling allows you to print a free FedEx shipping label or order a recycling kit. Send in your old smartphone and you might even get paid, depending on the condition and age of the device. Smartphone Recycling accepts devices in bulk, so you must ship a minimum of 10. Depending on how long you’ve accumulated phones, you may be able to reach this quota on your own. If not, check with friends and family and make it a group effort.

Two smart watches and five old phones

If you succumbed to the siren song of the newest device, even if your current device wasn’t on its last leg, we’re not here to judge.

Woot/CNET Screenshot

what you can recycle: Smartphone Recycling accepts smartphones, cell phones, MacBooks, tablets, iPhones, iPads, iPods, and Apple Watches, as well as batteries attached to or installed in the devices.

Best Buy

Best Buy accept a wide range of technological products and usually takes three items per house per day. Details may vary depending on where you live, but you can check the state-specific recycling information dropdown menu on the site.

Best Buy also offers a transportation option for larger appliances like TVs, dishwashers, freezers, microwaves, treadmills, and stationary bikes. If you have ordered a new product, Best Buy will take your old one to recycle. There’s also a independent transport option that costs $200 you can have two large items carried, as well as an unlimited number of smaller itemswith some exceptions.

what you can recycle: Best Buy can accept televisions, cables and chargers, media players, projectors, laptops, hard drives, web cameras, cell phones, calculators, radios, landlines, headphones, vacuum cleaners, fans, ink and toner cartridges, alarm clocks, speaker systems, electronic reading devices, game consoles, memory cards, camcorders, 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.



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

what you can recycle: Staples can recycle accessories, adapters, cables, computers, cordless and mobile phones, digital cameras, laptops, routers, tablets, web cameras, ink and toner, and other office technology items.

house deposit

Home Depot has an explanation on its website about how to safely dispose of dead batteries, old paint, electronics, and other items, as well as tips for recycling and reusing. According to RecycleThings.orgservices are for delivery to residential customers only.

what you can recycle: According to RecycleThings.orgHome Depot accepts household alkaline batteries (AA, AAA, C, D, 9V), lithium-ion batteries, nickel-cadmium batteries, household rechargeable batteries, cell phones, and LED bulbs.

United States Environmental Protection Agency

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

what you can recycle: Again, the EPA directory links you to specific companies and their policies, but based on the list, you can recycle and donate mobile devices, PCs, and TVs, as well as imaging equipment and supplies.

Electronics Take Back Coalition

Like the EPA, Electronics Take Back Coalition makes it easy to find manufacturer takeback programs in the U.S. You can search over 25 summaries of company takeback programs, including acer, Apple, Dell, HP, lenovo, panasonic, sony and more.

The Electronics Take-back Coalition does not handle recycling, but 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, TVs, 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

ecological ATM

ecological ATM gives you a estimate the price of your old phone which you can lock in the mobile app using the IMEI number of your old device. EcoATM will ask you a few questions about your device, such as make, model, memory, carrier, and condition, before generating a quote. From there, you can visit one of the kiosks of the organizationlocated in stores like Kroger, Walmart and Dollar General.

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


earth911 allows you to search by device and zip code to find suitable locations nearby to drop off old phones. When you visit the organization’s website, click on where to recycle at the top of the page to get started. Earth911 works with well-known companies like Lowe’s and Target, as well as local recycling and waste centers.

what you can recycle: Earth911 helps you find locations to recycle, but you’ll also note what materials the location accepts, whether it allows drop-off or pick-up for residences or businesses, as well as any additional information.

Recycling for Charities

Recycling for Charities accepts technology donations, but gives a percentage of the device’s value to a charity of your choice. Scroll for a directory of charities, select one, enter the required information and click donate. Charities receive anywhere between 25 cents and $100 of your articles.

what you can recycle: Wireless cell phones and their batteries, iPhones, wireless pagers, digital cameras, iPods, PDAs and Palm Pilots.


Call2Recycle is a recycling program focused on batteries. The organization offers delivery options at places like Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Staples, as well as shipping boxes for batteries and cell phones. Deliveries are free, but recycling kits and shipping boxes cost between $45 and $115, depending on size.

what you can recycle: Rechargeable batteries such as Nickel Cadmium, Nickel Metal Hydride, Lithium Ion, Nickel Zinc, and Small Sealed Lead Acid weighing up to 11 lbs. Call2Recycle also accepts single use batteries such as AA, AAA, 9V, C, D and button cell batteries weighing up to 11 lbs. The organization also accepts cell phones and their corresponding batteries regardless of size, make, model or age.

For more, check out Five Things You Can Recycle (and Five Things You Can’t) and the right way to recycle plastic Y The Do’s and Don’ts of Recycling Metal Cans.

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