Whether you upgrade your smartphone every year, or you’re still loving your iPhone 6 (no judgment here), at some point, you’ll probably have an old phone or two lying around. And while it might seem like the least pressing thing on your to-do list, recycling your old phone is actually a great idea. Not only does it help reduce landfill waste, recycling your cell phone also has additional environmental benefits. According to a study examining the impact of unrecycled phones on gorilla habitats, published by researchers at the University of Australia, about 400 million people ditched an old phone in 2018, per a recent press release, while only a small percentage of these got recycled. According to TreeHugger, old cell phones add up to 65,000 tons of electronic garbage each year, globally, so taking the time to recycle them is important.
In the phone recycling process, precious metals get extracted that are normally mined in places like the Congo, according to Austmine. When these materials are pulled out of old mobile phones, they can then get reused — lessening the push for the mining of new metals. Recycling your phone means less disruption to gorilla habitats, and you get the satisfaction of clearing out clutter while doing a good deed. And in case you don’t have the slightest idea about how to recycle your old phone, you have a few, pretty easy options to help get you started.
Popular Science says that, whatever you do, don’t toss your old phone into the trash. Not only does this add to landfill waste, but can leak dangerous chemicals into the environment. Official mobile phone recycling programs are the way to go, as these ensure that all the phone’s components are handled safely in the recycling process. Checking in with your phone’s manufacturer is also a helpful first step in the tech recycling process, as most major brands have an in-house recycling program. Many brand-based recycling programs also offer cash incentives and/or credits for turning in your old phones. Some tech-centered retail outlets, like Best Buy and Staples, also provide ethical recycling options, Popular Science adds.