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old mobile phones.

Getting rid of old phones from your home or business should be done responsibly. You can’t just throw them in a general waste or recycling bin, as they’re a type of electrical waste. There are many ways to recycle phones so the complete devices or their parts can be reused rather than going to landfill.

Every year we throw away 5.3 billion mobile phones around the world. Many homes and businesses also get rid of landline telephones. Explore your recycling options when disposing of old phones whether you’re due an upgrade, are replacing your office telecommunications system, or if they’ve simply stopped working with Divert.

How to Recycle Old Phones

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How to recycle phones

You can recycle phones that still work so they continue to be used by others, saving resources and energy. Even phones that no longer work or are faulty might be recyclable, while others may be dismantled, and their parts recycled and reused. Recycling mobile and landline phones is the best option for the environment.

Before recycling a phone you must clear it of all personal data to stay safe. Conduct a full factory reset and check no personal information remains on the device. This should prevent anyone from accessing sensitive data and reduce the risk of identity theft or fraud.

Once you’ve done this you then have a few options for how to recycle old phones:

  • Return it to a retailer – many phone shops will take back your old mobile phone if you’re buying a new one or upgrading your contract. Some may offer a discount on your new phone or contract, or just pay you a set amount for it. If you upgrade online some retailers will send you an envelope to recycle your old phone in.
  • Pass on your old phone – know a friend or family member thinking of getting a new phone? Then your old one might be perfect if it still works and has a decent battery life. Pass it on as an easy way to recycle and reuse the device.
  • Donate it to charity – most charities accept donations of any type of old phones whether they work or not. Those that are in decent condition will be checked and put on sale to benefit the charity. Any not working are sold by the charity to mobile phone recycling companies to raise funds for their cause.
  • Sell your phone online – eBay, Gumtree, and Facebook Marketplace are all popular places to sell an old mobile phone if it still works. There are also specialist sites that purchase mobile phones and other gadgets and devices directly from you for a set price like and

How to dispose of 
broken mobile phones

Recycling old mobile phones is important when they no longer work to ensure their parts are recovered and reused. It avoids them ending up in landfill where hazardous elements and chemical components from their batteries and electrical parts can leach into the ground and nearby water, adding to pollution.

Electrical faults, accidents, drops, and damage can all cause mobile phones to break. These are a few ways to responsibly dispose of mobile phones that are broken:

  • Recycle it at your local HWRC – most household waste recycling centres (HWRCs) have containers for WEEE items including mobile phones. Check how they dispose of such waste before though (ensuring it doesn’t go to landfill). Most should be shredded, materials separated, and recycled.
  • Return it to a retailer – mobile phone shops that offer a takeback scheme will likely accept broken mobile phones and find a way to recycle them. You might still receive some money for it, but this may be less than if it was in better condition. Still, it recycles the mobile phone.
  • Visit a repair shop – plenty of places repair broken mobile phones. This is a green option as it prevents waste and the need for extra resources (plus it’s much cheaper for you).
broken mobile phone being repaired.

How are mobile phones recycled?

Old mobile phones at the end of their life go to a specialist recycling facility where their materials are recovered and recycled. The precise processes may vary depending on the facility but generally, it involves these steps to recycle a mobile phone:

  • Separating – old mobile phones are disassembled and sorted into parts such as batteries, circuit boards, screens, and cases. They’re then processed separately depending on their material.
  • Shredding – most of the metal and electronic components are shredded and crushed into small parts. These may be heated and smelted as well.
  • Sorting – an electromagnet passes over the shredded material to remove any metals and leave behind plastics and other materials.
  • Recycling – metals are then removed and recycled into new products. The glass screen and plastic cases are also recycled into new glass and plastic products.

How to dispose of old phones 
from your business

Any waste produced by businesses is classified as commercial waste and must be managed responsibly – including old phones. It could be company mobile phones given to employees, landlines in your office, or leftover stock in a shop. This classes as waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) and must be disposed of properly.

Store your old phones separately from any other waste in a dedicated WEEE bin or container once you no longer need them. Legally your business must arrange the removal of commercial waste including old phones by licensed waste carriers. Agree on a time and date for them to collect your phones.

They should then take them to a waste management centre where they’ll be checked, sorted, and sent for disposal. This could be donated to a charity if they’re in the right condition or a specialist recycling facility that recycles electrical equipment. Your business receives a duty of care certificate or waste transfer note confirming the disposal method.

woman on the phone in an office.

How to dispose of mobile phone 
chargers and batteries

If you return your mobile phone to a retailer, donate it to charity, or sell it online you can just leave the battery in and supply the charger too. This is the case even if the phone is broken but the charger still works. Should the charger be broken then you can dispose of it responsibly with other WEEE items.

Take it to your local HWRC or find your nearest electrical bank. If you need to get rid of just a mobile phone battery because it no longer works or has the juice it once did, you can recycle it with other batteries. Many supermarkets have battery bins where you can drop it off or try a nearby electrical retailer.

Dispose of mobile phones 
responsibly with Divert

Disposing of old phones from your business is quick, easy, and environmentally friendly with Divert. Our WEEE waste collection services include the removal and recycling of any type and amount of phones from your office, call centre, shop, or any other business. Enjoy free bins to store your electrical waste with no rental or delivery fees, you just pay for collection.

Licensed waste carriers can collect your phones and transport them to a recycling facility to divert them away from landfill. You receive a free duty of care certificate for peace of mind that they’re disposed of responsibly. Get started with a free quote today – call 0333 444 0118 or contact us online.

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