Recycle week has encouraged us to consider something we wouldn’t necessarily, when we think of recycling – the mobile phone.
What is it that usually springs to mind when you hear recycling? We don’t mind admitting that for us, it’s paper, plastic, cardboard, metal and glass. But electronic goods can be recycled too, especially the mobile phone which is arguably the most upgraded of them all.
So if you’re thinking of changing your phone, or you’ve got an old phone laying around, don’t stash it away in a bottom drawer or send it to landfill, but choose the eco-friendly solution of recycling it instead.
Pass it on
Don’t throw it away… give it away! If you’re not handing your phone down to a friend or family member, there are plenty of organisations that welcome old phones for refurbishing and reuse. Companies such as Freegle help you source and give away free items in your local community, providing a waste free option for getting rid of your old phone.
And if you don’t want to go through an organisation, preferring to hand over your phone directly, why not set up a trade space on social media? No-money-zone groups are becoming more popular on social channels such as Facebook, helping people find what they need, and swap for something of similar value – all the while reducing waste and encouraging the purchase of second-hand goods.
Most charities accept old mobile phones, whether they are working or not, since they can raise valuable funds from sending to mobile phone recycling companies. Equally, many accept them to pass onto vulnerable groups, particularly homeless people.
A recent survey by Crisis found that three quarters of homelessness organisations struggle to support people experiencing homelessness where a lack of digital technology is involved. This is because digital connectivity has become a key survival need during the pandemic.
To combat this, charities such as Crisis and Hubbub have started initiatives to hand out handsets and data packages to those in need, helping both to reduce digital poverty and electronic waste. You can donate your phone to campaigns such as Community Calling for free here.
On average, each person in the UK buys almost three new electrical items each year – or around 170 million nationally. But for every 5.9kg of small electricals purchased, only 1.8kg are sent to be recycled. However up to 80% of a mobile phone is recyclable, and will be accepted at recycling centres and organisations.
So if your phone is completely past the point of reuse, you can rest assured that it can be recycled. You can dispose of your phone at most household waste and recycling centres in the containers marked “small electricals” – where they are taken to reprocessing plants to be shredded and separated.
It’s worth noting though that this route of recycling a mobile phone does consume the most energy, so opting for one of the above choices first would be the most planet friendly. We’d also always recommend doing a factory reset of your phone whichever you choose, so that all your personal data is wiped and cannot be accessed.
Written by Hannah Stark