A growing gift card trend is paying consumers with gift cards instead of cash. I've written about Amazon.com paying consumers for used electronics with Amazon.com Gift Cards before and Apple offers a similar program.
In fact, recently Apple updated their Reuse and Recycling Program to include iPhones and iPads. In other words, you can receive an Apple Gift Card in exchange for recycling qualified "iPhone, iPad, and Mac or PC desktop and notebook computers".
Offering an incentive is a great way to get consumers to responsibly dispose of old and unwanted electronics. Naturally, by giving the consumer a gift card instead of cash, Apple can increase the dollar amount of the reward an be certain the money will be spent within the company.
Gift Card Tip
I price checked an original 16GB iPhone 3G in working order and was quoted $30; keep in mind, that number included free shipping to Apple. While $30 may not be a big help towards your next MacBook and the Apple Gift Card can't be used in the iTunes or App Store; the Apple Gift Card be used to purchase an iTunes Gift Card at the Apple Store.