Phone Recycling - Information For Units


General Introduction

This document describes how obsolete telephones will be recycled during ITS's Telephone Service Upgrade Project.

When a phone number is transitioned to Zoom Phone, the corresponding current desk telephone will go out of service. Analog phones will no longer have a dial tone and will not be able to make or receive calls. VoIP phones may retain some limited service but will not provide normal features.

It’s important to physically remove deactivated phones to avoid confusion, especially in the case of an emergency.

Telephone numbers will generally be transitioned in weekly batches. A weekly set of users will be notified on a Monday that their number will be transitioned on the Thursday of that week. On Thursday a technical change will be made that will activate Zoom Phone for that user. In Monday and Thursday email notifications, the user will be asked to disconnect their phone when it becomes inactive, and to deliver it to their building's facility manager. Users may contact their IT or facility team if they need assistance disconnecting their phone.

Units are asked to recycle phones using the procedures in this document, which are closely aligned with existing procedures for recycling electronic waste on campus.

Recycling steps

Following are the general steps to be taken by units, as described in this document:

  1. Collect phones
    -- Receive deactivated phones from users and store them prior to recycling
  2. Data-sanitize phones if needed 
    -- For some types of phones, perform a factory reset to remove any data stored in memory
  3. Complete and submit Declaration of Surplus form
    -- Fill out and submit a special Declaration of Surplus form to Property Disposition; an Authorization to Scrap form will be sent from Property Disposition in return
  4. Recycle phones as e-waste
    -- Drop off phones at an ITS-provided collection box, or have EHS deliver a Gaylord box to your location if you have large volumes

Step One: Collect Phones

In the early phase of the project, phone numbers will be transitioned without a specific pattern based on unit or building. Units can expect deactivated phones to be delivered by users irregularly, one at a time. Facility managers may find it convenient to designate a storage area or container for collecting phones until a quantity are collected.

Users may request assistance with disconnecting their phone, especially if it is connected to their computer. Please refer to our documentation on disconnecting phones. Consult with local IT staff or send email to [email protected] if further support is needed.

Step Two: Data-Sanitize Phones If Needed

  • During this project, departments are encouraged to data-sanitize phones that carry a significant risk of disclosing sensitive institutional or personal data. There is no specific requirement to data-sanitize all phones.
  • At U-M, most VoIP phones are Cisco-brand, though there may be exceptions among the large number of models used on campus. VoIP phones can also generally be distinguished by being plugged into an RJ-45 Ethernet jack rather than a narrower RJ-11 phone jack.
  • Other types of phones may not be VoIP, but have features like speed dial, phone directory, and call history that store data on the phone. If they carry a significant risk of disclosing sensitive institutional or personal data, these phones may be sanitized by removing the stored data or wiping the phone depending on the model's features.
  • “Basic” phones (non-VoIP, and without memory features) can go directly to e-waste recycling without considering sanitization.
  • Refer to manufacturer's documentation or email [email protected] with questions that can't be resolved by the document linked above.
  • Instructions for data-sanitizing all types of phones.

Step Three: Complete and Submit Declaration of Surplus Form

For this project, Property Disposition has developed a simplified Declaration of Surplus form to be used only for telephones, and only during the duration of the telephone upgrade project. 

When a batch of phones has been collected for disposal: 

  • Download the special Declaration of Surplus form, which is a Microsoft Excel file. Complete instructions are found on the first tab of the file.
  • Complete section 1-2, including contact information and a shortcode. (The shortcode is required for tracking purposes; there will be no charges or revenue associated with the form.)
  • Sign section 4, declaring the items as surplus.
  • Note section 5, regarding discretional data-sanitization.
  • Enter the quantity of Cisco-brand phones and the quantity of all other phones.
  • Email the completed form to Property Disposition ([email protected]). 
  • Property Disposition will process the form and reply with an Authorization to Scrap form for your records. Wait to receive that reply before recycling the phones.
  • Please note that all phones are anticipated to be recycled and there will be no financial credit from Property Disposition as when materials are resold.

Step Four: Recycle Phones as E-Waste (Ann Arbor campus)

All phones should be treated as e-waste rather than regular trash, using the e-waste program operated by Environment, Health & Safety (EHS). Two options are available for units to recycle phones on the Ann Arbor campus:

Option 1 - Drop at ITS Infrastructure Warehouse

ITS will maintain an e-waste dropbox at the ITS Infrastructure warehouse, located at the loading dock of Building 2 at the Arbor Lakes complex, 4251 Plymouth Road (PDF of map and instructions). This box will be available for units to drop off discarded desk phones during Warehouse hours, 7:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. Monday-Friday. Please follow this process:

  1. Arrange a drop-off time by calling the Warehouse at 734-615-2265 or sending email to ITS.Infra.[email protected].
  2. Upon arrival, phone the Warehouse at 734-615-2265 by mobile phone or from the phone outside the loading dock door. Warehouse staff will open the door.
  3. Drop phones in the collection box labeled for phone collection. No paperwork will be required by the Warehouse. It is presumed that the unit will have submitted the Declaration of Surplus form to Property Disposition.

Option 2 - Arrange for Gaylord box at your location

Units that have a large volume of phones can contact EHS directly to request a Gaylord box for their location. A Gaylord box is a cardboard box about 48”W x 48”D x 36”H, mounted on a pallet so it can be moved with a forklift. Gaylord boxes are delivered weekly by a vendor and picked up weekly on request.

  • Gaylord boxes for e-waste can be requested by calling EHS at 734-763-4568. When ordering, specify that the collection box is for the telephone upgrade project.
  • Typically the deadline for orders is 3:00 p.m. on Tuesdays, with deliveries and pickups on Thursdays.
  • The telephone system upgrade project will cover the e-waste recycling cost for the disposal of surplus desk phones only.
  • Units that order Gaylord boxes in this way should not use the box for any other type of material. Please label the box accordingly and monitor the contents.
  • We encourage units to share Gaylord box capacity by letting managers of neighboring buildings know when they have a Gaylord box on site.

Step Four: Recycle Phones as E-Waste (Dearborn campus)

  • Softphone Users: If you have been transitioned to softphone,  open a ticket with the Dearborn ITS Service Desk with a request to disconnect and remove your old desk phone.

  • Deskset: If a new deskset has been installed for you, open a ticket with the Dearborn ITS Service Desk with a request to remove your old desk phone.

Step Four: Recycle Phones as E-Waste (Flint campus)

  • Softphone Users: If you have been transitioned to softphone, disconnect your old desk phone and place it in one of the telephone collection boxes in the loading dock area of Murchie Science Building or William S. White Building. Alternatively, your phone can be collected by Flint ITS as part of the headset distribution process.

  • Deskset: If you are receiving a deskset, please put an “Out of Order” note on your old desk phone. It will be disconnected and left for you when your new phone is installed. Please place the old phone in one of the telephone collection boxes in the loading dock area of Murchie Science Building or William S. White Building.


Last Updated: 
Thursday, November 10, 2022