Whenever someone explains recycling, they usually mention the three Rs — reduce, reuse, and recycle. For instance, recycling paper products lets manufacturers reuse the materials to create even more paper products, thus reducing the need to cut down trees for fresh paper. The same also applies to electronics — including smartphones.
You should already be recycling old electronics instead of throwing them out because, whether incinerated or left to stew in a dump, they will often harm the surrounding environment. However, the EPA explains that when recycled, electronics can be broken down for their individual components to be reused in future products. After all, modern devices are the result of numerous individual pieces working in harmony, and when one fails, the item in question no longer functions. Still, other components might still be salvageable, and many recycling services know how to separate what works from what doesn’t.
If you have a smartphone or other electronic device you don’t use, either because it no longer functions or you have upgraded, you should ideally send it to a Responsible Recycling (R2) facility. Organizations such as Sustainable Electronics Recycling International (SERI) and the EPA provide lists of these locations and are good alternatives to your local Best Buy or Home Depot electronics recycling services. Even if an R2 facility can’t extract working components from your smartphone or other devices, at least you won’t have to worry about lithium ions leaking into the ground.
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