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What do you know about mobile phone recycling? You may think that you know enough already; there are those advertisements on television after all. If you do want to know more just type, “mobile phone recycling” into Google and you will see plenty of links that will take you to informative sources. But what do you really know about the subject at the moment? If you are not already recycling, then perhaps you are not as knowledgeable about the subject as you should be.

Why is recycling important?

A lot of people really love keeping up with all the latest mobile phone technology. They read about new phones coming onto the market, changes to the operating systems, new applications, and which manufacturer is on top and which one is struggling to keep up. Most of us however just like to remain informed about the basics – which phones are the most popular, the most reliable, and the best looking.

Sadly, far less people are interested in the recycling aspect: but we should all be. As mobile phone technology continues to develop at a rapid pace so does the frequency with which we replace our mobile phones, which means of course that we have to dispose of the old one somehow. Hundreds of thousands of mobile telephones become redundant every year and this is why recycling is so important. If we do not recycle those often perfectly usable phones, apart from it being such a waste, our landfill sites will be contaminated with components that are toxic to the environment.

So what if I throw my mobile phone away?

In 2004, the Basel Convention (a global entity that regulates the way hazardous wastes are disposed of) partnered with the Mobile Phone Partnership Initiative in an effort to further public awareness regarding the toxicity of some mobile phone components. When considering the size of the average mobile phone that may not seem to be much of a problem, but consider this: in the USA alone, 130 million mobile phones were discarded in 2005. That is over 65,000 tons of toxic waste, and that was five years ago – what would the figure be now?

If the above is not enough to convince you that recycling is important, perhaps we should look a little closer to home. Currently in the UK there are approximately 90 million mobile phones in circulation. Of those 90 million, only about 10% are being recycled. That is 80 million phones eventually going somewhere, either being left in a drawer in the home or ending up in landfills. We are either being wasteful or are poisoning our own countryside – and we don’t have to.

When you make the decision to throw away your old mobile phone rather than recycle the unit it will eventually travel to a landfill site. It will be buried there and will eventually leak toxic chemicals into the ground. From there the chemicals are absorbed and can eventually find their way back to us – the worst case scenario being that they are eventually released into the environment through the air, soil, and water, thus contaminating the food and drink that we and our children consume.

OK, so I will recycle my mobile phone – what do I do next?

Recycling an old mobile is easy, with most of the work done for you. There are a number of companies offering cash for even the oldest and most damaged of mobiles.

How to pick the right recycler

One way to choose your recycler is to take a look at the websites and compare the available deals. Or, you can use a comparison site like sellmymobile.com, which will provide you with a list of the most up-to-date offers from reputable recyclers. Select the one that you consider is right for you and a provided link will take you to their website.

Sending in your phone

Once you have reached the recycler’s site, you will be asked to provide your details. The mobile phone recycling company will then send you a pre-paid jiffy bag. Place your phone inside and pop it in the post. The speed with which you receive your payment will depend upon the method you have chosen – but all are usually fairly speedy.

Kinds of payments to expect

Most recycling companies offer to send a cheque, or will make payment via BACS and/or PayPal. Or, if you prefer you can opt to receive vouchers toward goods at a well-known retailer instead of taking cash – with the voucher value often being higher than the cash payment that you would have received.

Important things to remember

The key to getting the best price for your phone is to take a bit of time to ensure that it is in the best condition possible. Damage reduces the offer price, as does an inaccessible locked handset or a dead battery. So here are a few tips:

  • Make sure your handset is clean and is in a good working condition, has the original battery, and switches on and off.
  • Send the phone with the battery fully-charged and turned off.
  • Remember to take out the SIM card.
  • Wipe all personal data from the memory.
  • Remove any security settings or pin codes – the easiest way to do this is to set the mobile back to original factory settings.
  • Chargers can often be recycled too, so if you don’t need it send it along with the phone.

For damaged or non-working phones that may not attract any cash payment recycling is still a good idea through one of these companies. At least you will be keeping the old unit out of landfill.

What happens to my mobile phone after I sell it?

Once your phone is tested, there are a few things that can happen:

Given a new life

Phones that are in good condition and decent working order are refurbished and then sent off to become useful to someone elsewhere in the world. Some companies ship their phones to less affluent countries in areas such as Africa, South America, and the Middle and Far East. Others re-sell them at lowered costs closer to home, making the ownership of a mobile phone possible for those who would not otherwise be able to afford it.

If a phone cannot be refurbished due to poor condition, then it is recycled.

  • Nickel and lithium is extracted from the batteries.
  • Plastic and metal parts are stripped from the charger and accessories.
  • Mixed plastics are melted down and reused.
  • Gold (and other metal) is extracted and reused – reducing the need for mining.

Conclusion

So there you have it, everything that you need to know about recycling an old mobile telephone. Surely, after reading all of this you will think twice before throwing that old mobile phone into the rubbish bin.

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