To recycle your cell phone, you must first delete any personal information and remove the batteries, which may need to be recycled separately. When ready, recycle your phone by sending it to a manufacturer, retailer or third party that accepts phones for recycling.
Begin by backing up your personal data to a computer or cloud service, and then inform your wireless service provider that you are no longer using the phone. Delete all passwords and PINs, including those for websites and applications. Reset all security settings, and remove all personal information stored on your phone in the form of pictures, texts, social networking profiles, apps and Bluetooth settings. Remove the Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) card. Use a data eraser application, and then reset the phone to the factory settings. You can ensure new files are not created on the phone by using an app to download dummy files.
Some retailers, such as Best Buy and Staples, accept old cell phones for recycling in-store as well as during special events. Best Buy also provides an online recycling option. Manufacturers such as LG and Samsung offer mail-in recycling programs. All major carriers accept any cell phone for recycling, no matter which carrier the phone actually used. Your carrier may also offer buy-back programs that credit your account when you return your old cell phone. Additionally, third party organizations such as Earthworks and AmericanCellPhoneDrive.org provide drop-off or mail-in locations to which you can bring or send your phone.