Between new smartphones and other highly anticipated devices rapidly being released on the market, many consumers find themselves with a stack of old devices. 

Maybe they’re shoved away in a closer or a desk drawer — just waiting to be disposed of one of these days.

Whether your old device is still functional, or no longer operating, it’s important to dispose of the electronics properly.

Electronics contain toxic substances such as lead, mercury and cadmium that need to be removed with care. 


These devices should be either donated or recycled, not thrown in the bin with the rest of your household garbage.

If you have one or more electronic devices that you need to get rid of, here are the steps you can take to safely recycle unwanted tech.

Before doing anything else, you need to erase all personal information from the devices you are getting rid of. There are a few different ways to do this, depending on the type of device you have.

If there is nothing worth keeping on the device, you can simply clear everything before recycling it. However, it’s not that simple if your device is filled with pictures, videos and important documents that you need or want.

You’ll have to move all of your data from the old device to a device you are keeping or to an external hard drive.

For example, if you are getting rid of an old iPhone but want to keep the pictures stored, you’ll need to plug it into a computer. 

Then, you can either save what you need to the actual computer, or to an external hard drive. You can also save everything to a cloud service.


If you are getting rid of a device that uses a sim card, you can also remove it to clear all your data from the device. 

Perhaps the easiest way to recycle a device is by trading it in, though there are a few caveats to this option.

Many phone carriers offer trade in options when purchasing a new phone. 

This essentially means that you can bring in your old phone and earn credit to use toward the purchase of a new one.

Keep in mind that with this option, your phone needs to be functioning. 

Additionally, it usually needs to be a newer model to receive credit. If your phone is functioning, but has cosmetic issues, this will deter from the phone’s value.


When you trade in your phone, you don’t have to worry about backing up your device, or clearing all the data as the carrier will take care of all that for you. 

Typically, the data from your old phone will be transferred to your new one when purchased.

You can bring used technology to an electronics manufacturer, since most chain electronics stores have recycling programs of their own.

Best Buy has their own recycling program. Moreover, there are kiosks to recycle your electronics yourself. ecoATM, a kiosk for disposing technology, was established in 2011. People can safely dispose of their devices and earn cash.

The machines accept cell phones and tablets. 

Simply place your device inside, the machine will determine how much your device is worth and make you an offer. If the product is unusable, it will be properly recycled. 

If it’s usable, it will be refurbished.

Amazon’s trade-in program will help you understand which devices are eligible for trading. Select the appropriate category and fill in the information. 

Then, ship your product, and you’ll receive an Amazon gift card to your account.

The value of the gift card will depend on the device you’ve traded in.

Donating your old devices is a great way to safely get rid of electronics and give back.

Cell Phones For Soldiers, a charity benefiting U.S. soldiers, was established in 2004. 

The program collects old devices and uses the proceeds to purchase international calling cards for troops. Phones donated through nonprofits like this are recycled and refurbished safely.