Keep your old tech out of the trash: How to recycle outdated gadgets for free


New phones, tablets, laptops come out every year. You upgrade your tech and your old device is retired to your gadget graveyard at home. You probably have a drawer full of used batteries and cables, and some old phoneslaptops and desktops lying around, depending on how often you upgrade your gear.

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We all cling to outdated technology for our own reasons – I always have my first nokia lock phone hidden by nostalgia. There are also several ways to reuse old appliances for your smart homeusing them as security cameras and more.

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

What to do before disposing of a device

When you’re done with a gadget, make sure it’s done with you too. Make sure to backup everything you want from the device – photos, videos, songs – then do a factory reset. Here are some CNET articles to help clarify the intricacies of wiping a device:

Here are the best places here in the United States to recycle, reuse, or breathe new life into your old technology.

Smartphone recycling

Smartphone Recycling lets you print a free FedEx shipping label or request a recycling kit. Ship 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 at least 10. Depending on how long you have accumulated phones, you can reach this quota on your own. Otherwise, check with friends and family and make it a group effort.

Two smartwatches and five older phones

If you’ve succumbed to the siren song of the latest gadget, even if your current device wasn’t on its final stage, we’re not here to judge you.

Woot/Screenshot by CNET

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

best buy

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

Best Buy also offers a carry option for large appliances like TVs, dishwashers, freezers, microwaves, treadmills and exercise bikes. If you ordered a new product, Best Buy will take back your old one for recycling. There is also a self-contained transport option that costs $200. You can carry two large items as well as an unlimited number of smaller items, with some exceptions.

What you can recycle: Best Buy can take televisions, cables and chargers, media players, projectors, laptops, hard drives, webcams, cell phones, calculators, radios, landlines, headsets, vacuum cleaners, fans, ink and toner cartridges, alarm clocks, speaker systems, players, video 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.



The 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 offers a variety of transportation, driver pickup, and pallet pickup options, with prepaid address labels available.

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

Home deposit

The Home Depot has an explainer 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, the Services are only offered to residential customers.

What you can recycle: According to, The Home 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 filing the same way other companies do, but it has a handy guide that makes it easy to get the information you need. The EPA directory breaks down donations 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 according to the list, you can recycle and donate mobile devices, PCs, and TVs as well as equipment and supplies. imagery.

Coalition for the recovery of electronics

Like the EPA, the Electronics Take-Back Coalition makes it easy for manufacturers to find take-back programs in the United States. You can browse summaries of trade-in programs from over 25 companies, including Acer, Apple, Dell, HP, Lenovo, Panasonic, Sony and many more.

The Electronics Take-back Coalition does not handle recycling, but can direct you to the appropriate resource for your needs.

What you can recycle: Depending on the company, you can find places to hand over iPhones, iPads, smartphones, monitors, computers, printers, keyboards, mice, DVD and VHS players, cameras, televisions, etc

An Acer Chromebook open on a table

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

Josh Goldman/CNET


EcoATM gives you an estimate of the price of your old phone which you can lock on the mobile app using the IMEI number of your old device. EcoATM will ask a few questions about your device like make, model, memory, carrier, and condition before generating 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, tablets and MP3 players, Google Pixel phones, LG phones and tablets, Motorola phones and ZTE phones. You can also recycle cell phone chargers and accessories like cases, but you won’t get paid for them.


Earth911 lets you search by device and zip code to find suitable nearby locations to hand over old phones. When you visit the organization’s website, click 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 waste and recycling centers.

What you can recycle: Earth911 helps you find locations to recycle, but it will also note what materials the location accepts, if it allows drop-off or pickup for individuals or businesses, and any additional information.

Recycling for charities

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

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


Call2Recycle is a recycling program focused on batteries. The organization offers drop-off options at places like Home Depot, Lowe’s and Staples, as well as shipping boxes for batteries and cell phones. Drop-offs 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 like AA, AAA, 9V, C, D, and button cells weighing up to 11 pounds. The organization also accepts mobile phones and their corresponding batteries, regardless of size, brand, model or age.

For more information, check out Five Things You Can Recycle (And Five Things You Can’t) and the right way to recycle plastic and the do’s and don’ts of recycling metal cans.


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