Let’s be candid: Were you aware that recycling your old phone chargers is recommended?
I may not be perfect, but I strive to do what’s right. I recycle my bottles and cans, return my grocery store cart, and tip at least 20 percent, even for a simple cup of coffee.
However, for years, I’ve been unknowingly making a mistake. Did you realize that you shouldn’t throw away your phone chargers? Yes, those little iPhone chargers that seem to break every few months and the cheap knockoffs from CVS – it turns out you shouldn’t toss them in the trash. Instead, you should recycle them, just like you would with a computer, TV, or any other electronics, even though a simple charging cable might seem far less complex and valuable than those pricier gadgets. I have to ask: Who knew about this?
When I discovered this fact, it left me with many questions. First and foremost: Why is this the case? Second: How do you actually recycle a phone charger?
As it turns out, I wasn’t alone in my ignorance. According to a survey conducted by refurbished tech seller Decluttr, out of 2,400 people polled on Reddit (admittedly, not a scientific survey), a staggering 75 percent admitted to not disposing of their chargers correctly. Honestly, I doubt that the remaining 25 percent knew there was a proper way to do it either.
Fifty-five percent of respondents in the survey admitted to throwing old chargers into the trash, while 17 percent selected “other,” with numerous comments suggesting they simply stashed their charging cables and bricks in a drawer somewhere. Only 25 percent said they take their old chargers to a recycling center, which is the correct way to handle it. A mere three percent mentioned contacting local authorities for disposal guidance. (I might need to give New York Mayor Eric Adams a call about my phone charger.)
If I took a moment to ponder, I’d realize that chargers should be recycled. They contain plastic and metals and, without delving into scientific details, the components that facilitate the flow of electricity into the phone. In essence, they contribute to electronic waste or e-waste – and CNN reports that approximately “66 million tons of electronic waste are generated each year.” Apple, for instance, has a global recycling program that allows you to bring in your old, malfunctioning Apple charging bricks and cables – both online and in stores – for proper disposal. This information might come in handy when you decide to upgrade to the new iPhone 15 models, which now feature a universal USB-C connector instead of a Lightning port.