Users who don’t know what to do with old iPhones and iPads can now trade them in for Apple gift cards as part of the company’s changes to its electronics recycling program. Additionally, Apple says it will now accept computers or displays from any manufacturer for free recycling, even if you’re not buying a new Mac to replace your old junk.
Apple’s recycling program has gone through many changes over the last several years, but the current version was essentially birthed in 2005. At that time, the company announced that customers who brought an old iPod to an Apple retail store would receive a 10 percent discount on the purchase of a new iPod.
That option is still available, though there are now plenty of other options for getting rid of your old stuff. Users can send in their old mobile phones (from any manufacturer) by mail for recycling, and Apple also accepts old Mac or PC trade-ins (desktops or notebooks) for an Apple gift card for what Apple considers to be the fair market value of the device. Until this week, machines that were determined to have no trade-in value were recycled for free if the user bought a new Mac, or recycled for $30 (to cover shipping) if the user didn’t buy a new Mac.
On Tuesday, however, Apple appears to have quietly updated its options (hat tip to MacRumors for spotting the updates). Now, computers and displays can be recycled for free regardless of purchase, and the gift card trade-in includes old iPhones and iPads. The description on Apple’s site reads:
Turn that iPhone, iPad, or computer—Mac or PC—you’re not using anymore into something brand new. Send it to us and we’ll determine if it qualifies for reuse. If it does, that means your device has monetary value that we’ll apply to an Apple Gift Card, which you can use for purchases at any Apple Retail Store or the Apple Online Store. If your iPhone, iPad, Mac, or PC doesn’t qualify for reuse, we’ll recycle it responsibly at no cost to you.
So, not only do users no longer have to buy a new Mac in order to send off their old Macs, PCs, or displays for recycling, but they can also get a gift card for bringing in a device that is either working or fixable, including iPhones and iPads.
According to Apple’s recycling FAQ (a pop-over screen from Apple’s main recycling page), the company determines the value of your trade-in by looking at demand for the item in the secondary market, as well as its condition. Through its partnership with PowerON, Apple then gives users an estimate for how much they’ll get back when they send in the device. PowerON will alert the user if the final value ends up being different from the estimate, and if the user accepts, the gift card will be sent “within three weeks.” If the user doesn’t accept, they can have the equipment sent back.
How much can you really get from these recycling programs? There’s no doubt that you can get more for your old (but still functional) MacBook or iPhone if you simply sell it directly to another person, but sometimes there are issues that you simply don’t feel like fixing, and all you care about is minimizing your losses.
A very recent thread in the Macintosh Achaia in the Ars forums discussed this very topic, with one user claiming to get a $450 gift card out of Apple for a 13″ MacBook Pro released in 2009 with a spilled drink in the keyboard. That’s not too shabby for not having to clean up the machine and find a non-flaky buyer—in fact, I’m using a 13″ MacBook Pro from 2009 right now that has seen its fair share of spills, so maybe it’s time for me to check out Apple’s recycling program firsthand.