How to recycle your old mobile phone

Recycling your mobile icon

The average person gets a new mobile phone every 18 months - so what happens to their old one? Well, a lot of them get recycled. Not only is it good for the environment, recycling your mobile phone can get you a nice cash sum. Here’s everything you need to know.

In the age of rapid technological advancement, mobile phones quickly become outdated as newer models emerge. As a result, many of us end up with a collection of old, unused mobiles gathering dust in drawers. But before you consider tossing them in the trash, there are various options for recycling your old mobile phones that can be both environmentally friendly and financially rewarding.

Options for recycling phones

When it comes time to part with your old mobile, you'll find there are numerous avenues to recycle it. Phone recycling companies are abundant, as are mobile networks and phone sellers - all willing to take your old device off your hands.

But how do you ensure you're getting the best deal when recycling your phone? That's where comparison sites come in handy. There are tons of phone recycling companies out there. There are dedicated electronics recyclers, mobile networks, phone sellers, and more. Try comparing all your options using a site like or to make sure you find the best possible deal.

What happens when a mobile is recycled

The recycling process

The journey of recycling begins with checking the phone's IMEI number to confirm it's not reported lost or stolen. Once cleared, the phone will make its way to an electronics recycling facility where it embarks on its transformation journey.

Refurbishment and resale

The majority of phones are actually refurbished: their parts are all checked over, fixed, and given a spring clean (or totally replaced), before the newly refreshed phone is sold on. Some stay in the UK and get sold on as refurb phones, or given out as replacements for people who've lost or broken theirs.

Most, however, find new homes in emerging markets. Your old phone could find a new owner in Russia, Asia, Africa, or Latin America, where it continues its life, proving valuable to someone else.

Recycling irreparable or old phones

For those phones that are beyond repair or deemed too old to be refurbished, they are carefully disassembled. Each component is evaluated for reuse in other phones or, if that's not possible, the materials such as plastics and precious metals like platinum, gold, and silver are melted down. These materials can then be recycled and repurposed into other products, ensuring that nothing goes to waste.

How much is my phone worth?

Factors affecting phone value

Determining the value of an old phone can be influenced by several factors, including its condition, the current demand for that model, and its age. Generally, newer phone models will command a higher price than their older counterparts.

Examples of phone resale value

To give you an idea of the potential value, as of the time of writing, an iPhone 12 might fetch around £200 to £250, while a Samsung Galaxy S22 could go for approximately £220. Even older models, such as the iPhone 6, might still hold some value, potentially around £5.

Value of broken phones

If your phone is broken, it's likely to be worth less, but that doesn't mean it's worthless. Phones that are in good working condition, are recent models, and are unlocked will typically be valued the highest in the recycling market.

Should I sell my phone, or recycle it?

Selling vs. recycling

When it comes to getting rid of your old phone, you might wonder whether selling it, perhaps on a platform like eBay, or recycling it through a company is more profitable. The truth is, the financial difference between the two options is often minimal. Plus, many of the companies that offer to buy your old phones on bidding sites are in the business of recycling them anyway.

Environmental and financial benefits of recycling

It's important to remember that throwing away old phones is not just financially imprudent; it also poses environmental risks. Discarded phones can leak toxic waste and chemicals into the environment, causing harm to wildlife and ecosystems. By choosing to recycle your old mobile, you're not only potentially earning some money, but you're also contributing to a healthier planet.

Every phone has a lifecycle, and recycling is a crucial part of it. So, before you consider discarding that old mobile, remember the potential value it still holds and the environmental impact you could mitigate by recycling it responsibly. Your old mobile might just embark on a new adventure, providing value to someone else while you benefit from a cleaner conscience and maybe a little extra cash.

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