How and Where to Recycle Your Old Cell Phone, Smart Phone, PDA and other Mobile Household Electronics

How and Where to Recycle Your Old Cell Phone, Smart Phone, PDA and other Mobile Household Electronics

How to Safely Recycle Your Old Cell Phone - For Both the Environment and Your Security


Recycling / Disposing of Your Old Cell Phone, Smart Phone or PDA

If you own a cell phone, sooner or later, you'll upgrade to a newer model. But what should you do with your old phone? Options include recycling, reselling, donating and, of course, disposal. regardless of the method you use, before you let the phone leave your hands, you need to make sure your personal information is removed. Protecting your identity and financial security is also important, in addition to protecting the environment.

Cell phones and other complex electronic devices, like Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs), are like laptop computers: they hold personal and often sensitive, confidential information, including addresses and phone numbers, passwords, bank account numbers, email, voicemail, phone logs, even medical and prescription information. You wouldn't think of disposing of your old laptop computer without first wiping the hard drive clean. Cell phones and mobile devices deserve the same level of attention before you discard them.

Here are the

Step 1 - Remove sensitive information

Step 2 - Decide what to do with the phone

Step 3 - Find a recycling center near you

Step 1 - Permanently Removing Personal and Sensitive Information

Encrypting passwords and other sensitive data stored on your cell phone, and "locking" the keypad while your phone is not in use, can help prevent unauthorized access even after your cell phone is no longer in service. Still, certain data on your phone, including personal contacts, photos and Web search terms, may be recoverable with relatively simple and inexpensive software programs.

It's a good idea to remove personal information before you dispose of your phone. Permanent data deletion usually requires several steps.

  1. Remove the memory or subscriber identity module (SIM) card from the phone. That's an important first step in deleting information. but you likely will need to do more to erase all the sensitive data on your device. You can command a cell phone to delete certain data, but that will only delete the references to where the data is located; the actual information stays on the phone's operating system.
  • Clear data from the phone's contacts and other stored information from the memory chips  See your owner's manual, your wireless provider's website, or the manufacturer for specific information on how to permanently delete information from your mobile device (and even how to save or transfer information to a new device before deletion). Make sure that you have removed the following data: phone book, any lists of calls (received and made), voicemails, sent and received email and text messages, organizer folders, Web search history and photos.

Step 2 - Recycle?  Reuse?  Dispose?

Once you have a "clean" phone, here are some options for disposing of it.

  1. Recycling - Cell phone manufacturers, service providers, and non-profit groups often have programs to refurbish mobile devices or recycle their components, including peripheral devices like chargers.
  2. Donating for Reuse - Many organizations collect old mobile devices for charitable purposes.
  3. Reselling - Some individuals and organizations will buy your old mobile devices. You can find names and addresses online.
  4. Disposing - Keep the environment in mind when disposing of mobile devices. Disposal is the least preferred option. Cell phones contain batteries, which should not be put in your trash because they will end up in landfills where they could be harmful. Many cell phones also contain heavy metals which can contaminate the earth. Check with your local health and sanitation agencies for the proper way to dispose of electronics safely.

Step 3 - Where / how to drop off the phone (or mail it)


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