How to Dispose of Old Cell Phones

Cellphones are one of the best inventions and have become an essential part of our lives. Many people are so fond of cell phones that they spend most of the day with them. But what should you do with them when they get old? Of course, you should not put them in the garbage bins or burn them. Here is why!

According to TechDump, when you toss or burn old cell phones, they release harmful waste substances into the environment and can also harm the soil. Therefore, this post will discuss the safe ways to dispose of your old cell phones. 

What Are The Safe Ways to Dispose Of Old Cell Phones?

Old cell phone disposal

It is unsafe to dispose of electronics you no longer need in garbage bins or burn them, and old cell phones are not an exemption. Instead, you can sell, donate, or recycle them. Read on to discover the safe ways to dispose of your old cell phones.

Gift Your Old Cell Phones

One of the best ways to dispose of your old cell phones and give back to the community is to gift them. You may not know, but many people will love to own that old cell phone you no longer need.

It may be an old model, but if it is functioning well or still repairable, you can give it to people who do not mind using an old cellphone. Most teenagers and older people who are not inclined to use the latest model cellphones will benefit from this generous act.

The most exciting part of giving out your old cell phone is that you will be keeping them from the landfills and impacting the lives of others around you.

Sell Your Old Cell Phones

If your old cell phone is still functional, you should consider selling it rather than trashing it. Old cell phones still have some value, no matter how small, and selling them means you have extra cash to purchase a new cell phone or meet other needs.

Selling your old cellphone should not be an issue because there are many platforms where you can trade those cell phones for money. Swappa and SellCell are reliable places you should check out.

You can sell any phone on these platforms, including iPhones and Androids. However, the valuation depends on many factors like the brand, model, specifications, year of usage, and neatness. You will get a better valuation for newer Smartphones and high-quality brands like iPhones.

Try selling that old cell phone; you might get more money than you expect from its sale.

Donate Your Old Cell Phones

Selling your old cell phone may not be appealing to you, but there are better options than tossing it in the garbage bin – one of which is donating it to organizations that have access to more less-privileged people.

Sometimes, it is difficult to personally gift your old cell phone to people who need it, but you will achieve the same goal if you donate it to NGOs and other platforms with better reach.

For instance, your old phone in the hands of troops on duty can help them call home. Also, victims of domestic violence can benefit from the selfless act of donating their old cell phones.

There are different platforms set up for cell phone donations. Some of these platforms donate the phones to the needy, while others recycle them or raise money from them for good causes.

One of the platforms where you can donate your old cellphone is Goodwill. They accept donations for cell phones they can resell and use the profits from the sales of these cell phones for charity purposes. 99 Cell Phone Bank is another platform that accepts cell phone donations which they give to people who do not have cellphones to dial 911 in case of emergency. National Coalition Against Domestic Violence also accepts old cell phone donations for victims of domestic abuse. They also partner with cell recyclers that sell refurbished electronics and fund some of their programs with the proceeds from the sales.

However, it is best to ensure your cell phone is functioning well or at least repairable before donating it.

Trade-In Your Phones

One of the best ways to dispose of an old cell phone is to trade it in. It is a way to keep your old phone from landfills and get a better replacement for it – sometimes, with a little charge. 

Companies like Amazon, Apple, Bestbuy, and Samsung have trade-in programs, although some only pay in gift cards. However, the estimated evaluation of your old cell phone depends on the brand, model, and condition of the phone. Trade-In programs are also safe for disposing of old computers and other electronics.

Recycle Your Old Cell Phones

You cannot resell, gift, or donate old cell phones that are no longer functional or repairable. So, what do you do? Recycle them! It is the best alternative to discarding it in a garbage bin in such conditions.

Recycling is eco-friendly and helps manufacturers easily manufacture new phones without sourcing raw materials. There are many recycling centers and landfills across the United States where you can recycle your old cell phones. Visit Earth911 to find the nearest location to drop off your old cell phone for recycling.

What Should You Do Before Disposing Of Old Cell Phones? 

It is best to gift, sell, donate or recycle your old cell phones, but there are some steps you should take for security reasons. We highly recommend you take these steps to secure personal information on your old cellphone and prevent them from entering the wrong hands.

Back-Up The Data On Your Old Cellphone

Your old cell phone indeed contains your data and files. There are pictures, videos, contacts, messages, documents, and other essential files that you do not wish to lose forever. Therefore, you should back up all the data to keep them safe.

You can back up your data by sending files to an external storage or uploading them online through the cloud. Sending these files to external storage comes with the risk of losing the files if the external storage goes missing.

On the other hand, backing up your data on the cloud is more convenient because it does not require the purchase of external storage and is always available online when you need it. Android users back up their data through Google, while iPhone users back up their data on iCloud. You can also use third-party cloud services like Microsoft OneDrive and Dropbox to back up your data.

If you use an external storage device, you should send it to your new phone as soon as possible to reduce the risk of losing it.

Remove Your Memory Card and SIM Card

Your memory card and sim card contain valuable and sensitive data you want to protect from the reach of strangers. Therefore, you should remove them after backing up your data.

Your memory card may contain pictures and videos that remind you of beautiful moments captured while the cellphone was in use. It is easier to remove memory cards from newer models of cellphones, while it is a bit more complicated in older cell phones. Check your user manual for the steps to do this.

The SIM card is also essential because it contains contacts of people you may need to reach. You can choose to discontinue cell service on your SIM card, but the information on it remains, and strangers can have access to it. 

Like memory cards, it is easier to remove sim cards from newer models of cellphones than the older ones.

You should still consult your user manual if you do not know how to remove your SIM card or contact its customer support.

Delete Your Accounts

Before disposing of your old cellphone, you should sign out of your accounts like Google Account for Android users and Apple ID for iPhone users.

It ensures someone else can use your cell phone without retaining your information. Also, you should disable the activation lock feature on your old cellphone. This feature helps lock out strangers who may want to access the phone without your permission, especially if you lose access to the phone, and the phone will not be reusable if you do not disable it before donating or gifting it.

Unpair From All Devices

It is essential to unpair your old cell phone from every wireless device it pairs to before disposing of it—disconnect from Bluetooth speakers, wi-fi routers, and other wireless devices.

Why should you bother? Imagine gifting your old cellphone, and the new owner has access to your Bluetooth speaker or can use your wi-fi without your permission. You wouldn’t want that, would you?

Do A Factory Reset

After backing up your data and removing your external storage cards, you should wipe the cell phone’s internal memory by doing a factory reset.

Cellphones have a factory reset feature that allows you to return their memory to its default state at the time of purchase, hence the name factory reset.

The reset factory settings option is available in the settings menu of every device, and you can consult your user’s manual if there is any difficulty.


Disposing your old cell phone becomes easy with the tips in this guide. Never send old phones to the trash; instead, think about the best option to put the cell phone to good use.

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