Apple replaces Mac hardware trade-in partner PowerOn with Phobio

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After working with hardware recycling firm PowerOn for more than five years, Apple this week notified customers that a new partner, Phobio, will handle all Mac trade-ins going forward.

Apple quietly announced the change on Tuesday in an update to its hardware Renew and Recycling webpage, which now redirects Mac trade-in inquiries to a dedicated page on Phobio's website. Previously, the Mac recycling link forwarded to a landing page hosted by Apple partner PowerOn.

Like PowerOn, Phobio offers users a number of options when it comes to trading in old Mac computers, specifically those produced from 2007. Customers are directed to enter a device serial number and answer a few basic questions about the trade-in hardware, for example whether the device powers on, is damaged and comes with the original power adapter.

Users who accept Phobio's quote can request a prepaid FedEx shipping label and supplies. If the trade-in passes the inspection process, Phobio provides payment in the form of Apple Store Gift Card, PayPal or Virtual Visa Reward.

Apple failed to elaborate on its decision to change trade-in providers, though MacRumors, citing unnamed sources, reports the move was prompted by an overall better user experience. Compared to PowerOn, Phobio provides higher trade-in values and a payment option for those who prefer cash to gift cards.

Apple's device buyback program was introduced in 2011 as a way for upgraders to recoup a portion of the purchase price of old hardware while at the same time keeping harmful pollutants out of landfills. PowerOn initially handled all trade-ins, but the effort grew to include third-party recyclers Brightstar and Sims Recycling.

After today's policy change, PowerOn has been relegated to the trade-in of Windows PCs. Brightstar handles iOS devices and other smartphones, while Sims Recycling processes Apple Watch, iPod and older Apple hardware.


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