November 13, 2014

Celebrate America Recycles Day – By Recycling Your Old Phone

By Marci VerBrugge-Rhind

What do the holidays and America Recycles Day (Nov. 15) have in common? No, the answer is not how you plan to recycle that old Christmas sweater. Maybe it means thinking about upgrading to that new phone you’ve wanted? Or, more important, finding out how much your current phone is worth. At Sprint, we’re known for our Sprint Buyback program. That’s because last year alone we put more than $100 million back in customers’ pockets – and responsibly recycled your phone.

To get you in the phone trade-in spirit, here are a few tips to think about to ensure the best experience.

1. Know the value of the device

As part of our award-winning Sprint Buyback Program, Sprint today matches all major U.S. carrier phone trade-in pricing (Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile). That’s exciting when you think some “used phones” are still worth more than $300! Also, people are generally surprised by the value of their used phone. Once you know how much it’s worth, you’re more apt to turn it over when you upgrade. Also, really consider whether holding on to it is the best thing for you. While a “phone backup” might seem like a good decision, most people I know still have old phones stashed throughout their home. Think of it like an old car you’re not driving. Most people just don’t park it in the back yard and wait for a rainy day to drive it. For every day you hold on to it, the more value it loses.

2. Understand the terms and conditions of the program you are using (i.e. how many on one trade, gift card vs. point-of-sale trade value).

The key word here is INSTANT. If you want to be able to get an instant credit wherever you turn in your phone, you need to understand the terms and conditions. Some carriers and retailers award a gift card. Some give you the credit to be spent only on a new phone and nothing else. Some award the credit over 2-3 bill cycles. What’s important is that you give customers flexibility. Being able to apply the credit toward a new phone or your bill or on that latest and greatest accessory helps you keep money in your wallet. That’s how we do it in Sprint retail stores.

3. Be aware of your device’s condition (cracked screen, missing parts, won't power on).

Most people don’t have to call Mission Control to understand the condition of their device.  However, I’ve seen some pretty ragged phones, many of which can still turn on! That’s good news for you and the phone! Phones with cracked screens or missing buttons or that simply  won’t turn on sadly do lose value. That said, bring it to your local Sprint store and I think you’ll be surprised; some of those small imperfections can still get you a decent phone credit.
4. Completely clear your device of all content, apps and account information.

The game-winning home run. The first day of school. Remember to get your pictures off your phone before you trade it in! Don’t forget to erase your phone and retain the SD card if necessary. If you’re like me, I do everything from my phone today (book airline tickets, mobile banking, etc.). It gives me great peace of mind to know all of that information is erased – poof! – when I hand over my phone. Sprint store representatives are always happy to show you how to clear your phone, but save yourself some time and follow these quick tips from our friends at the CTIA.   

5. Donate your phone. Tis the season to give back!

If you discover your phone isn’t worth anything OR you find yourself in the giving spirit and would like to donate the proceeds from your phone, Sprint lets you do that. Recycling your cell phones with Sprint Project ConnectSM can make a world of difference for kids and the environment. You’ll be helping to keep millions of phones out of landfills. And the net proceeds from all equipment collected will fund programs that empower youth to succeed in a digital world by learning how to use technology in safe, sustainable and innovative ways. To recycle your wireless device, pick up a free, postage-paid envelope at any Sprint-owned store nationwide. Or, print the free, pre-paid shipping label.

Hopefully these tips have been helpful. Remember, it’s good to recycle your phones responsibly and to keep old phones out of landfills. Recycling your phone with Sprint doesn’t mean we just disassemble it for the plastic, metal and glass. Today, it’s about giving your old phone a second life. In fact 90 percent of the phones that come back through the Sprint Buyback program today get reused. We either remanufacture them as certified pre-owned devices, or we sell working devices that we can’t use to others who can.

Finally, those phones that can’t be remanufactured affordably are disassembled into components that can be recycled as raw materials for a surprising number of goods, from jewelry to battery packs to car parts. Last year consumers discarded an estimated 135 million cell phones  and only 10 percent were recycled.  That is why we continue to make Sprint Buyback a priority – and a financial win for our customers.

So, in the spirit of America Recycles Day and with the holidays on the horizon, make sure you trade in when you trade up. Your old phone will never be worth as much as it is today ... and your wallet will thank you.

Related Infographics
Sprint Buyback Infographic
Carrier Comparison Buyback Infographic

Editor's Note: Marci VerBrugge-Rhind is the spokesperson for Sprint on corporate responsibility, including Sprint’s award-winning phone recycling and reuse efforts. She can be reached at marci.j.verbrugge@sprint.com.

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