How to Recycle Old iPods and MP3 Players

Follow this guide to recycle all your old iPods and MP3 players in a sustainable and eco-friendly manner.

By Maryruth Belsey-Priebe

Fact checked by Sander Tamm

Key takeaways
Recycling Old iPods and MP3 Players / Sander Tamm / Ecolife

Once a nearly indispensable part of many people’s lives, iPods are already more than 20 years old. A symbol of modern life in the 2000s, the speed with which the models were upgraded and changed created an enormous e-waste problem which has only gotten worse in recent years, with 5.3 billion phones being thrown out in 2022 alone.

But you can help solve that by recycling your old iPod or MP3 players. Like gaming consoles, mobile phones, computers, and other electronics, iPods and other MP3 players are essentially miniaturized electronics with all of the same toxic ingredients: brominated flame retardants (BFRs), mercurycadmium, and lead. They also are made with steel, aluminum, glass, and plastic, all of which can be recovered for recycling.

Follow these steps to recycle your old iPods and MP3 players:

  1. Clear any personal information.
  2. Consider donating rather than recycling.
  3. Sell or trade in your iPod or MP3 player.
  4. Find an iPod or MP3 player recycler.

Clear any personal information

Before selling or donating any usable iPod or MP3 player, make sure to remove your personal information by following the manufacturer’s directions for this purpose. Otherwise, you’ll have no control over where your personal data ends up once the device is out of your hands.

Consider donating rather than recycling

Many organizations will gladly take your functional iPods and MP3 players, which they will likely turn around and sell to make money for their operations. Some will use them to give to the people they work with, however. Our list of recyclers and charities in the recyclers database will give you an idea of where to find suitable nonprofits.

Sell or trade in your iPod or MP3 player

In many cases, if your electronics are still working well, you can trade them in or sell them for cash to a recycler. These companies generally refurbish and then resell secondhand units. Reuse is always preferable to recycling as it extends the life of the materials, making more efficient use of the embodied energy of the device.

In rare cases, your device could also be worth thousands. First-generation iPods, for example, are collector’s items nowadays and are worth a good amount of money.

Find an iPod or MP3 player recycler

Broken and non-functional iPods and MP3 players should definitely be recycled to keep their materials in the materials cycle rather than in the landfill.

Here, consider participating in Apple’s recycling programs to make sure that your old devices are recycled in the most efficient manner possible. If that’s not an option, you’ll have to find a local electronics recycler.