If you upgrade your mobile phone every 24 months (as is the length of a typical contract), you’ll go through five handsets over a 10-year period. What do you do with the mobile phone that finds itself surplus to requirements? The chances are it’ll be tucked away in your spare draw, never seeing daylight until you move house or have a good clear-out.

However, there is an alternative. Recycling is an excellent option, being both great for the environment and potentially, your bank balance too. Mobiles contain a number of materials that can be harmful to the atmosphere if incorrectly disposed of – such as metals and plastics. There’s also valuable components including silver, which can be extracted and reused. Around 80% of the phone can be recycled, so make sure your handset doesn’t find its way to landfill.

When it comes to recycling, you’ve a number of options at your disposal as well. Let’s take a look at some of these.

  • Give to charity

One option for discarding your old mobile phone, is to hand it to a charitable cause. On the whole, charities typically accept both working and non-working mobile phones – as they’ll be able to sell them in a local shop or pass them on to a recycling company.

  • Mobile phone recycling websites

This is typically the most popular choice for those with a new handset. Loads of mobile phone recycling companies have sprung up online. These allow you to get a free online valuation, before sending out a prepaid bag for you to ship the handset back in. You’ll then receive the payment by cheque or bank transfer.

  • O2 recycling scheme

As the UK’s largest direct business partner of O2, we will always recommend their recycle scheme to customers. If you can’t seem to trust another recycling website, why not sell with O2? It’s really easy to get rid of your old handset, by typing in the model, sending it off and then receiving cash through the post. Why not recycle your handset today?

  • Sell the handset privately

Recycling websites probably won’t offer you top dollar for your used mobile phone. So, if you want to maximise the value, why not try websites such as eBay or Gumtree? Make sure to describe the handset accurately, including any scuffs or scratches present and you may be pleasantly surprised.

  • Pass on to friends or family

You don’t have to sell your mobile phone to ensure it goes to a good home. Know any friends or family members who could do with a new handset? Why not offer them your old phone at a subsidised rate, or even for free? They’ll likely be thankful for your generosity.

  • Recycle the handset yourself

If you don’t want to waste time with any of the above, another option is to simply recycle the mobile phone yourself. You can do this at most waste recycle facilities, under the section ‘small electricals’. Make sure to ask someone if you can’t find the relevant recycling area.

How are mobile phones recycled?

The idea of recycling is to reuse and recover various components of the handset. During this process, the following is likely to take place:

  • The metals will be recovered after the handset is ground up. Metal can also be extracted from batteries using the same methods.
  • Plastic will also be recovered and used for other manufacturing used in the future.
  • Valuable components of the handset (including flash memory devices) will also be separately recovered.
  • Parts that can be used again in the future will also be put to one side – including screws, SIM cards, speakers, microphones and screens.

Protecting your private data

If you fancy the idea of selling, trading in or recycling your mobile phone, it’s important to ensure removing all data from the handset to prevent identity fraud or theft of your personal details. Before handing the mobile phone over, you should completely wipe the handset.

It’s a reasonably straightforward process for removing data from your old mobile phone and whether it’s a Windows, Android or iOS model, you should be able to find specific information in the manual. You should also note, removing the data isn’t 100% fool proof and with the right tools it can be possible to recover the information deleted.

Also, before completely removing any traces of your information from a mobile phone, make sure to do the following:

  • Back-up all the data from your mobile phone, including contacts and pictures
  • Remove your old SIM card or microSD card. If you don’t plan to reuse this card, wipe all data from this as well.
  • Clear all the Internet data and browsing history, whilst logging out of accounts such as emails and online banking. Clear the password cache too.
  • Keep a note of the handset’s serial number just in case.