Recycle your Tracfone

So you want to recycle your Tracfone? With a few new smartphone handsets out recently, you may be wondering about what you can do with your current (and maybe previous) handsets. Well, let me tell you, I’ve been there. After maintaining an extensive inventory of feature phones I’ve reviewed for this site, I decided it was finally time to move on. Here are a few options you may want to consider.

Update 2019

Republic Wireless's blog has also published a list of three things you can do with your old cellphone.

Re-Activate and Reuse

I know what you’re saying, “Who would want my old dumb phone?” Well, whether or not they want one, you may want to consider one for your kids even if it’s only as brief disciplinary action. One of the frustrating things about giving children a smartphone, even a basic one, is that they can still find ways to spend hours on it, drain the battery completely, and then mysteriously forget to charge it overnight so that it can actually be used as an emergency contact device when the child is in school.

The advantage of the feature phones is that the battery usually lasts about a week as there isn’t a whole lot you can do on the phone (other than text, which you do have to ask them to limit).

There are however, a few issues to consider when re-activating one of these handsets.

CDMA Handsets

If you have a CDMA-type handset that runs on the Verizon network such as the Samsung S380C or LG 305C, then you should be able to simply re-activate the phone with a new number and new airtime card, and you would be good to go.

GSM Handsets

On the other hand, if you have a GSM handset that runs on either the AT&T or T-Mobile network such as the LG 840g or Samsung S390g, then you have to go through an additional step. In my experience, I have found that Tracfone handsets with SIM cards can only be activated once with that SIM card. To re-activate the phone, you have to call up their customer service, and they will mail out a new SIM card (for free) so that you can re-activate the phone on their system.

As far as I know, you cannot activate these phones on other plans because the airtime system embedded into the phone’s software. That makes it difficult to use on another plan. This even applies to their related brands. So, for example, you cannot re-activate a Tracfone handset on Net10 or vice versa. This is one thing to be careful about when you purchase a used handset from sites like eBay. The seller may list it as a Tracfone handset, but it may actually be a Straight Talk handset.

If you don’t know anyone who could use your old phone, you may think about giving it to charity.

Donating your Phone

The fact that the phones are tied to the Tracfone service can make it a little tricky to donate your handset. Charities that distribute phones to other countries cannot really use these phones.  If you want to donate the phone, you should do so to organizations that redistribute to the phones within the USA.

So that brings us to the true meaning of the word . . .

Recycling your Phone

Finally, you can send your phone off to the various organizations that will dismantle the phone and use whatever they can of the materials and dispose of the rest in as environmentally sound a manner possible.

Pickup Service

Your trash and recycling pickup service probably has an electronics recycling program. You can call your trash pickup service to find out if you can include the cell phones along with the cans , jars and cardboard that you already recycle. They can limit the amount of items you can recycle but unless you’ve really been hoarding them, this shouldn’t be a problem.

Many counties also urge you to recycle your electronics at their landfill. They can limit the amount of items you can recycle but unless you’ve really been hoarding them, this shouldn’t be a problem.

Drop-off Centers

Many shopping malls and retail stores have an electronics recycling bin. Items dropped into those bins are presumably sent off to those centers that dismantle, dispose and recycle the items. The bins in places like Best Buy, for example, are separated into the different kinds of parts such as batteries, power cords, cell phones, etc.