Can You Recycle Old iPhones and Other Electronic Devices?

If you’ve been wondering about whether or not you can recycle your old iPhone, the answer is yes, but you may still be wondering how to go about it. Will they accept an old iPhone 6? What if I don’t want anyone accessing my old data on my phone? What about my chargers and phone cases? We’ll answer these questions and more, so keep reading to learn more about how to minimize e-waste and recycle your old iPhone safely.

Put together by the team at Pela Case

Apple’s Policies

Simply put, yes, you can trade-in any device in any condition. Apple will either give you credit or recycle it for free. You can get credit towards your next purchase or get an Apple Gift Card. If the device is not eligible for credit, Apple will just recycle it for free. If you’re curious, the current value of your old iPhone 6s is up to $30, but it could very well be less. Apple has made it as user-friendly as possible to recycle old iPhones. You can bring it into an Apple Store in person. You can return it to Apple by mail using a prepaid trade-in kit they send you.

Benefits: Why Recycle Old iPhones?

While you may be totally over your old iPhone, there are benefits to recycling your phone. Don’t throw it out to see that it ends up with the rest of the waste in landfills. If your phone is still in good condition, your phone can go to a new owner. If it’s not in good condition, the parts from your old phone will be recycled into something new.

recycle old iPhones: massive pile of broken devices
Source: Parilov/

What to Do with Old Phone Cases and Accessories

The reality is that one day your new iPhone 12 or iPhone 13 will be considered dated technology. You may wonder what you can do with that iPhone 12 case instead of just throwing it away. If you have an iPhone 13 case that you plan on getting rid of one day, there are so many ways to upcycle and repurpose your old cell phone cases.

For example, you can turn your phone case into a jewelry or knickknack holder. If you need a designated area to keep coins, rings or earrings, your old phone case can be just the thing. Not everyone is operating on the latest model of iPhone, so your old phone case might be a phone case for someone’s new phone. Donate it or sell it to give your phone case a second life.

Recycling Chargers

You do not need to include accessories when you go to recycle your iPhone. If you do choose to recycle your chargers or headphones, Apple will take care of recycling them for you. Make sure that if you’re mailing your device back to Apple that you’re packing your electronics in compliance with industry best practices, including discharging the unit to less than 30 percent. Ensure you’re shipping only one device per box.

Deleting and Backing Up Data

The first thing you should do before even deleting any data from your device is to back up your iPhone. You can do a manual backup to your computer through iTunes. You can also back up your data to iCloud.

If you have an Apple Watch paired with your phone, make sure you unpair it first. Deactivate Find My iPhone and sign out of your iCloud account.

After your iPhone is backed up to your cloud or computer and you’ve manually deactivated any services or accounts like Find My iPhone and your iCloud, you can do a factory reset of your device. Just go to your phone’s General settings and then select “Erase All Content and Settings.” Another important step to remember is that if you have any 2FAs on your phone, you will need to move over any authenticator apps to your new phone prior to resetting your old phone.

hand removing simm card from phone
Source: Aquarius Studio/

Removing the SIM Card

Don’t forget to remove your SIM card from your iPhone before you recycle or trade it in. The iPhone 12 and 13 have the SIM tray on the left side of the phone, while the iPhone 11 and X have the SIM tray on the right side. You can remove the SIM card with a SIM-eject tool or simply insert a paper clip into the hole beside the tray.

How About Other Devices?

Yes, if you have any other old Apple devices like iPads, an Apple Watch or Mac, Apple will recycle them for you. If you have an Android, Apple will also provide recycling or trade-in values for you. You can trade-in or recycle your Samsung Galaxy or Google Pixel with Apple, too! Apple can recycle other devices you may not have thought of, such as displays, hard drives, printers and keyboards.

cracked phone held in hand
Source: Pearl PhotoPix/

We hope with all of this information you’ll feel at ease the next time you go to trade in or recycle your iPhone.