Mobile phones


Mobile phones contain a range of materials including metals, plastics and several valuable components, such as silver, which can be extracted and re-used. In fact, 80% of a phone is recyclable, so you should never throw one in the bin, even if it's ancient! There are lots of options out there for recycling and re-using your old mobile phones:

Pass them on

Most charities accept old phones, whether they're working or not, as they can raise funds by selling them to recycling companies. Alternatively, you could give them away for free on sites such as Freecycle and Freegle, or, if you'd like some extra money, sell them! Try the comparison tool on Money Saving Expert to find who's offering the best price, or sell them yourself on eBay or Gumtree.

When you buy a new phone in a shop, ask how you can recycle your old one. Geek Squad, for example, let customers drop off their old phones in over 700 Carphone Warehouse stores across the country. You could get some cash or a deposit towards a new handset.

If your unwanted phone is in good working condition and reasonably up-to-date, shops such as Cash Converters and CeX will buy it off you, especially if you have the original box and instructions.

Recycle them

If you'd rather just recycle your old phones, you can drop them off at most household waste and recycling centres in the containers marked "small electricals".

How are they actually recycled?

Most schemes recover and re-use various parts from phones and their accessories. Parts recovery may include:

Separate metals recovery (including precious and semiprecious metals): The parts are ground up and useful metal extracted. Metal can be extracted from batteries too.

Plastic recovery: energy-from-incineration is used to recover plastic from components. Outer body plastic may be granulated and repurposed for use in mouldings.

Re-use of parts: Useful parts include aerials, battery connectors, PCBs (printed circuit boards), connectors including gold-coated edge contacts on PCBs, ICs (integrated circuits), keyboards, LCD screens, lenses, microphones, phone housings, screws, SIM card assemblies and speakers.

Remove your personal data!

It's up to you to make sure your personal data has been deleted from your phone. Check out this advice on how to wipe your android phone properly.