Cell Phone Recycling: A Green Way to Support Our Troops

Let’s talk trash for a minute.

Specifically, let’s talk about what happens when you have mobile-electronic waste—old cell phones, smartphones, tablets, mp3 players, etc.—piling up in your junk drawer or attic. When you don’t use it anymore, or if it’s broken, it’s tempting to want to throw it right in the trash.  

The World Economic Forum has released dire statistics on the rising problem of e-waste around the world. The United States has managed to reduce its waste of electronics, but there’s still a lot of work to do; only about 35 percent of e-waste is recycled. Around the world, the amount of e-waste has become a crisis. “Consumers can’t resist faster products with more storage and better cameras, but constant upgrades have created a growing global waste challenge. In 2019 alone, people discarded 53 million metric tons of electronic waste.”

But how you get rid of electronic waste matters, even if it’s as small as an iPod Nano (remember those?!).

Electronic waste can be extremely harmful to the environment if it ends up in a landfill. Anyone who’s had a mobile phone for longer than a few years knows they’re not built to last a lifetime, yet our devices are made with products that are anything but disposable. Our old devices may include things like cadmium, mercury, and lead as well as lithium batteries and rare-earth minerals, plus, they’re cased in plastic—all things that can cause damage to water supplies and ecosystems.

Addressing the Growing E-Waste Challenge

The rapid replacement cycle of cell phones contributes significantly to the escalating issue of electronic waste (e-waste). With millions of phones discarded annually in the U.S. alone, the environmental impact is substantial. These unused devices, often languishing in drawers or thrown away, contribute to a mounting e-waste problem. By acknowledging this challenge and opting for recycling, we can prevent these devices from becoming environmental hazards and instead turn them into valuable resources.

The Environmental and Health Risks of E-Waste

Discarded cell phones pose not just an environmental threat but also a health risk. These devices contain hazardous materials like mercury and lead, which can leach into the soil and water systems, causing significant harm. Moreover, the accumulation of e-waste contributes to the loss of precious metals and resources. Recycling offers a sustainable solution, allowing for the recovery of these materials and reducing the need for further resource extraction, which is often environmentally damaging.

What To Do With Old Cell Phones?

Instead of letting them gather dust, consider cell phone recycling as a sustainable choice. Recycling your mobile e-waste with an organization like Cell Phones For Soldiers can keep those harmful materials out of the environment and benefit our troops soldiers and veterans at the same time. Our recycling partner recycles each device securely, identifying which components may be resold for reuse (which helps cut the demand for mining in vulnerable places), and providing revenue for us to help service members communicate with home or support veterans in need. To date, we’ve stopped more than 20 million devices from entering landfills!

Where To Recycle Cell Phones?

Cell Phones For Soldiers offers an excellent opportunity to dispose of your electronic devices responsibly:

Find a Drop-Off Location

If you prefer to drop off your old cell phones in person, visit our Drop-Off Locations page. Our interactive map will guide you to the nearest recycling point, making it easy to contribute your devices and support our troops.

Free Shipping for 10+ Devices

For those donating 10 or more phones, smartphones, or devices, we provide a free shipping option. Before shipping, please follow these pre-shipping steps.

How To Recycle Cell Phones

  1. Back up your data.
  2. Turn off ‘Find My iPhone’ or remove Google accounts.
  3. Erase all data and remove SIM cards.
  4. Print a pre-paid shipping label.
  5. Print and affix a battery warning label to each package.
  6. Package your devices carefully and ship them to us.

Self-Paid Label

For donations of fewer than 10 devices, please use our self-paid label. By covering the shipping costs yourself, you help us to allocate more resources directly to our programs. Your device donation and shipping costs are tax-deductible. Follow the steps on our website to prepare your devices for shipping safely.

If you have any questions or need guidance on how to donate your devices, please visit our contact page.

For more information on how your donation helps and the process involved, check out our frequently asked questions.

The next time you upgrade your devices, make sure to recycle old cell phones through Cell Phones For Soldiers, where your old electronics can have new life benefiting our nation’s heroes.

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Self-Paid Label

Thank you for taking the extra step to cover shipping costs for your donated devices! Not only is your device donation tax-deductible, so are the shipping costs. 

Simply click and print this preaddressed label and follow the shipping instructions below:

1. Count the number of donated phones for your records.

2. Place the phones flat across the bottom of the box and layer them with newspaper or bubblewrap to avoid damage.

3. Keep batteries attached to phones. If there is no battery, place tape over terminal ends.

4. Due to federal shipping regulations, you must print a battery warning label for each package. Click here to print. Affix one label to the outside of each box. 

5. You must affix (USPS) or a prepay waybill (UPS, FedEx, DHL) in order for your package to reach us.

5. You will not receive an e-mail confirmation when your package arrives. Click here to print a donation receipt.