This post was provided by Ben Williamson, entrepreneur and passionate about technology.
Disposing of old technology has always been a problem. At the moment, experts estimate that there are 80 million redundant mobile phones containing highly toxic chemicals, have been dumped into landfills. In fact, there are so many unused handsets lying around that they make up from one to two per cent of all electronic waste. This bodes very ill for the future.
Along with the environmental concerns about the toxins inside handsets, what a lot of people also don’t realise is that their old handsets are actually worth money. Manufacturers are obligated to follow recycling laws, so they’re keen to make returning your old handset as lucrative as possible.
Returning your phone to its manufacturer or your network provider, depending on the company, can get you some bucks back. For instance, phone recycling from Virgin Media can get you up to £245 if you bring back your old white iPhone 5S. Prices vary according to the actual product, but it’s still a good way of saving up some money for your next phone purchase.
Apple, on the other hand, will recycle your iPhone or any other Apple device in exchange for gift vouchers. Even companies that aren’t phone manufacturers are getting in on recycling phones: Asda, for instance, will trade cash for your phone so they can give it to a new owner.
There’s always a market for old phones. Not everyone can afford the latest Samsung model; others are patient enough to wait till the price drops. You can try flogging your phone on websites like eBay: upload a picture, describe the condition it’s in and what the starting price for bidding is and if you’re lucky enough, you might rack up a little more than you expected.
If you’d prefer to stay away from the internet, try and resist the urge to just chuck your phone: sell it to a friend. It’s always better that your phone gets a new owner, rather than being chucked away with the others, where the toxic chemicals within will contaminate the air and groundwater supplies.
If you can’t find a new owner, there are plenty of people who will still want your old, out-dated phone for the precious metals and plastics inside it. The circuit board on your phone could be made out of copper, gold, lead, zinc, tantalum, coltan and many other raw materials that require heavy mining and manufacture to attain.
It’s important for us to source these materials wherever we can, and with 141 million phones being discarded in America in 2009 alone, we can’t really afford to be as wasteful as we are with them any longer.