According to SC Johnson, approximately 140 million unwanted cellular phones ended up in landfills across the United States in 2012. If you're ready for an upgrade and your old cell phone is damaged or obsolete, your first instinct might be to simply toss it in the trash. However, even though it's more convenient, putting your unwanted cellular phone in the garbage is extremely dangerous for the environment. Here is a step-by-step guide to the simplest and more effective way to get rid of an old cell phone: recycling.

The Dangers of Cell Phones in Landfills

When you simply toss your cellular phone into the garbage, it will eventually wind up in one of the several landfills that are in your area. Once there, the components and chemicals that are used to construct the cell phone will begin to degrade. For example, the circuit board in your cellular phone was manufactured from nickel and lead. The LCD, or liquid crystal display, screen contains mercury, and the batteries are manufactured from nickel and cadmium.

Eventually, these toxins can make their way into the groundwater, which can poison both your family and any animals in the area. Instead of placing your family and the environment at risk, take the simple and necessary steps to recycle the device.

Begin by Backing Up Your Data

The first step you need to take is to back up your data, including your text messages, videos, contacts, and photos. The easiest way to accomplish this is to simply plug a USB cord into your phone and the other end into a computer, tablet or laptop. The information will begin immediately downloading onto the computer or tablet.

Depending upon the operating system of your cellular phone, you might have other options. For example, some phone manufacturers allow you to automatically back up your data on a cloud-based format. If you're not sure how to accomplish this, refer to your phone's owner's manual, or contact your service provider or the phone's manufacturer for further instructions.

Learn How to Factory-Reset Your Device

Now that you've backed up the data on your cellular phone, it's time to perform a factory reset. Basically, when you factory-reset a phone, you wipe out all of the information, which takes it back to the state it was in when you first purchased the phone. The procedure necessary to factory-reset your phone is dependent upon the operating system.

Luckily, no matter what type of phone you have, performing a factory reset is actually a very simple procedure. Typically, all you will need to do is go to the phone's settings and perform a series of easy steps. It is vital to perform a factory reset because it will eliminate any personal data on your device that you don't want anyone else to have.

Remove the SIM Card

The next step is to locate and remove your phone's SIM, or subscriber identity module, card. This card is basically how your cellular service provider identifies you. Once again, the way in which you remove your SIM card is dependent upon the manufacturer of your phone. For example, in some phones you will need to pull out a SIM tray and carefully remove the card. For other models, you will need to remove the back of the phone and remove the card.

Either way, the SIM card can either be placed in a new cell phone or returned to your service provider.  

Take a Second Look

Finally, the last step you need to take before taking your phone to a recycling center is to turn it back on and take a last look. There should be no personal information left. If there is, contact your service provider or the phone's manufacturer for further help.

Recycling your cellular phone is a simple and environmentally-conscious way to get rid of your unwanted device. If you have any further questions about the process, don't hesitate to contact an electronic recycling center like NILO TECH ECYCLING