Don’t throw your old technology in the trash. How to recycle obsolete equipment for free

When you scored a deal on a new phone, tablet or laptop Black Friday, Don’t condemn your old device to the device graveyard at home – or worse, the trash can. We all cling to outdated technology for our own reasons, but there are also multiple options Reuse old devices for your smart homewith them as security cameras and more.

Whatever the technology, when it’s finally time to say goodbye, there’s a right way to dispose of your old gadgets — and there are plenty of wrong ways. We’ll show you what’s what.

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What do I have to do before I dispose of a device?

When you’re done with a gadget, make sure it’s done with you too. Make sure you back up everything you want from the device – photos, videos, songs – then perform a factory reset. Here are a few CNET articles to explain the intricacies of wiping a device:

Here are the best places here in the US to recycle, reuse, or breathe new life into your old tech.

Smartphone recycling

With Smartphone Recycling, you can print a free FedEx shipping label or request a recycling kit. If you send in your old smartphone, 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’ve been hoarding phones, you might be able to meet that quota yourself. If not, check with friends and family and do some group work.

Two smartwatches and five older phones

If you’ve succumbed to the siren song of the latest gadget, even if your current device hasn’t died, we’re not here to judge.

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 to or built into devices.

best buy

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

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

What you can recycle: Best Buy can provide TVs, cables and chargers, media players, projectors, laptops, hard drives, webcams, cell phones, calculators, radios, landlines, headsets, vacuums, fans, ink and toner cartridges, alarm clocks, speaker systems, e-readers, 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 where you can donate technology.



Office supply store Staples also offers free recycling opportunities for old technology. Staples accepts up to seven items per customer per day. The company also offers various transportation options, driver pickup and pallet pickup, and prepaid mailing labels.

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 office supplies.

home depot

Home Depot has a statement on its website for safely disposing of dead batteries, old paint, electronics, and other items, as well as tips for upcycling and reusing. According to, the services are only given to private customers.

What you can recycle: According to, Home Depot accepts household alkaline batteries (AA, AAA, C, D, 9V), lithium-ion batteries, nickel-cadmium batteries, rechargeable household batteries, cell phones, and LED light bulbs.

US Environmental Protection Agency

The EPA doesn’t handle recycling and levies like other companies, but they have a handy guide that makes it easier to get the information you need. The EPA directory breaks down donation and recycling by electronic device, company name, logo, and any additional details.

What you can recycle: Again, the EPA directory links to specific companies and their policies, but according to the list, you can recycle and donate mobile devices, PCs and televisions, and imaging equipment and supplies.

Electronics Takeback Coalition

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

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

What you can recycle: Depending on the business, you can find places to drop off iPhones, iPads, smartphones, monitors, computers, printers, keyboards, mice, DVD and VHS players, cameras, TVs, and more.

An Acer Chromebook propped up on a table

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

Josh Goldman/CNET


EcoATM gives you an estimate for your old phone, which you can lock with your old device’s IMEI number in the mobile app. EcoATM asks a few questions about your device such as make, model, storage, carrier and condition before providing a quote. From there, you can visit one of the organization’s kiosks, located in 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 chargers and cell phone accessories like cases, but you won’t get paid to do so.


Earth911 allows you to search by device and zip code to find suitable nearby locations to drop off 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 such as Lowe’s and Target, as well as local waste and recycling centers.

What you can recycle: Earth911 helps you find places to recycle, but it also notes the materials the place accepts, whether it allows drop-off or pickup for individuals or businesses, and any additional information.

Recycling for charity

Recycling for Charities accepts technology donations but will donate a percentage of the device’s value to a charity of your choice. Browse through a directory of charities, select one, fill in the required information, and click donate. Charities receive anywhere from 25 cents to $100 from your items.

What you can recycle: Wireless cell phones and batteries, iPhones, wireless pagers, digital cameras, iPods, PDAs and Palm Pilots.


Call2Recycle is a battery-focused recycling program. The organization offers drop-off options at locations such as Home Depot, Lowe’s and Staples, as well as shipping boxes for batteries and cell phones. Drop-off is free, but recycling kits and shipping boxes range from $45 to $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 pounds. Call2Recycle also accepts disposable batteries such as AA, AAA, 9V, C, D, and button cell batteries weighing up to 11 pounds. The organization also accepts cell phones and their batteries, regardless of size, make, model or age.

For more information, see Five Things You Can Recycle (And Five Things You Can’t) and The right way to recycle plastic and the pros and cons of recycling metal cans.


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