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Apple shifts Apple Watch recycling option to gift cards, processing to Brightstar

As part of efforts to promote device recycling, Apple on Monday updated its Renew recycling program with a new option that provides Apple Store gift cards to users who turn in older Apple Watch models.

Unlike past Apple Watch recycling provisions, which were processed through Sims Recycling, the new Apple Store gift card offer is being handled by Brightstar. The recycling company is apparently expanding its duties, having previously been in charge of processing used iOS devices.

As usual, Brightstar's online inspection tool asks users five questions to assess the state of their Apple Watch device. In order to receive full credit, the recycled wearable must power up and have an enclosure in good condition, free of liquid damage with a working display and buttons.

If one the five criteria is not met, Brightstar's online tool will by default not process the request. Instead of a gift card, the company offers free, environmentally friendly disposal for damaged devices.

Currently, Apple is accepting Apple Watch Series 2, Apple Watch Series 1 and first-generation Apple Watch models, including Nike+ versions. Both 38mm and 42mm variants qualify for recycling.

As part of the program, Brightstar is handing out Apple Store gift cards worth up to $175, with 42mm stainless steel Apple Watch Series 2 rating the highest payout. Aluminum bodied and Nike+ Apple Watch Series 2 devices can nab up to $125 in gift cards, while the stainless steel Apple Watch (1st generation) rates a $75 payout. At the back of the pack is the first-generation Apple Watch Sport, which equates to a $50 gift card.

Apple last reshuffled its recycling partner lineup in June when Mac hardware processor PowerOn was replaced by Phobio. PowerOn continues to play a role in Apple's recycling apparatus by handling Windows PC trade-ins.

As for former Apple Watch processors Sims, the firm has been relegated to recycling older Apple TV, iPod and miscellaneous Apple devices.