Lost and Found Disposal Guide

Disposal of found property is a necessary, but often regrettable step in the Lost and Found process. Unfortunately, not all found property gets returned back to their owner, so after a certain amount of time it needs to go. 

Since we’ve had far too much experience at this then we like, and just released a new feature to help with the process, we thought a quick guide could help all the lost and found teams out there.


Before diving elbows deep into the leftover stuff, you want to prepare for disposal. Lost and Found property can be anything, which means sharp, smelly, oozy, hazardous, or occasionally dangerous. We highly suggest getting some supplies together before getting started, like:

  • Gloves
  • Disposal bags
  • Containers for sharp objects
  • Boxes for donation
  • Shipping supplies

Work by Category

We have found it most helpful to divide the work by the item categories–similar items tend to have similar outcomes. Plus, you can get into a nice shredding rhythm.


Phones are precious consumer devices, particularly for the data on the device, along with the purchase price. While a large majority get reunited with owners, the few remaining can pose a tricky disposal process.


  • Broken Glass
  • Personal Data
  • Identification or payment cards (tucked away in cases)
Typical outcome- Sold

Our Partner

Here at Liff Happens, we take data security seriously, so we defer to the experts–Newaya is a fantastic team out of Colorado that processes, wipes, and resells or recycles the devices for us. Plus, they’re also software developers building a mobile device processing platform, so we’re big fans.


While phones represent a large portion of found property, a plethora of electronic items often show up in the lost and found; watches, laptops, power banks, Fitbits, etc. Personal data is an essential consideration in the disposal process, along with reducing electronic waste.


  • Personal Data
  • E-waste
Typical outcome- Sold

Our Partner

The Newaya team comes in huge again to handle the wide variety of electronics that might turn up, ensuring data removal and keeping these devices from landfills.


Wallets, and often purses, have a very high rate of return, especially if you’re using the ID Scan and Postcard features from the Liff App. In Lost and Found, container items are wildcards and can hold a wide variety of stuff–proceed with caution!


Typical outcome- various

Identification Cards

There tend to be slightly more ID Cards than wallets, but you should have returned most of them at this point (cough cough Postcards). Disposal here requires different actions depending on the type of identification cards.


Typical Outcome- Mailed or Destroyed

Payment Cards

Any payment card that has been out of your hands for an extended period should be canceled and reissued. It’s the best security practice; banks and card issuers typically do it for free, so customers don’t often come back. For the most part, shredding is an easy option until you get to the metal cards.


  • Metal Cards- drop off or mail back to the issuer
Typical outcome- Destroyed


Bags are the ultimate wildcards. They can contain anything, and when disposing of lost and found, it could be anything. As you sort through the items, be on the lookout for personally identifiable info that might be hidden in pockets. Proceed with caution.


  • Personally Identifiable Information
  • Sharps objects
  • Food
  • Water or other liquids
  • Clothing or soiled items
  • Drugs or other nefarious items
Typical outcome- Donation


Your local recycler can easily handle the metal, but the key Fobs can often be reused, so we try to find partners that can recover as much as possible. They’re… ok.


  • Sharp items
  • Rental Car Keys
  • Recyclable metal
  • Fobs- e-waste
Typical outcome- Sold & Recycled

Our Partner

Your local recycler can easily handle the metal but the key Fobs can often be reused, so we try to find partners that can recover as much of the use as possible. They’re… ok. 


Is it real, is it fake? Personally, we have very little interest in finding out. For the most part, these get bundled up and donated in mass. Let them figure it out.


  • Sharp earrings and edges
Typical outcome- Donated


Eyewear can arrive a bit battered, they’ve got a story to tell, and if it’s around for a day, they’ll likely be around for months–donate them to local organizations.


  • Broken glass or frames
Typical outcome- Donated


Other is your catch-all category that can be anything, from clothing to stuffed animals to random bits of string. You’re on your own for this one.


  • For everything…
Typical outcome- Disposed

What does Liff Happens do with the recovered value?

For the most part, anything of actual value gets returned. But out of the crowded lost and found options, you’ll find we’re unique in our view that the remaining property is a product failure, so we expressly do not profit from the disposal process.

Suitable items are donated locally during disposal, while any recovered value is donated annually to a chosen charity.

Want to take a look at how we handle lost and found disposal?

We’d love to get your thoughts on the tool we built, how we go about it, and how we’re trying to do less of it in the future. Drop a note below and we’ll set it up!

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