environment shopping waste

Recycle your mobile

2 million mobile phones are likely to be thrown away over the Christmas period, according to research for Tesco Mobile. It is estimated that 11 million people will acquire new phones this December, either buying them or receive them as presents, and 20% of those people are planning to just throw away the old one whether it works or not.

Two thirds of those polled said they were not aware of how to recycle gadgets, and just 18% of mobile phone users currently recycle their old handsets, meaning we send 1,500 tonnes of old mobiles every year. A quarter of us admit to just binning old printers, computers or games consoles too, even though they may have further usefulness, or at least be disposed of safely.

Research from T-Mobile earlier in the year showed that the most popular way to deal with old mobiles was not to deal with them – just to leave them, tucked away in drawers and boxes. They estimated there may be as many as 52 million old phones lying around, to the value of over £1 billion.

If you have a mobile you no longer need, ActionAid are running a ‘Mobile amnesty‘, or just take it to your nearest Oxfam shop. Or of course you could use Tesco’s scheme – the website will guide you through it and what rewards of airtime or clubcard points you can earn. But I’d take it to Oxfam if I were you.

For larger items, the Waste Electronic and Electrical Equipment (WEEE) guidelines that came into force this year mean that you can take old equipment back to the shop that sold it to you, and they have a duty to dispose of it properly. Find out more at weeeman.org.

(The photo at the top is from Chris Jordan again. This represent a tiny corner of a bigger photo depicting the 426,000 cell phones retired every day in the US.)


  1. I have used a company, Charitable Recycling, in Michigan for recycling cell phones before. The church I belong to has had a very active drive with them. I know you can visit their website: http://www.charitablerecycling.com and get a pre-paid mailing label. They will donate funds to any charity you ask them to. No need to drive, recyle your phone from the comfort of your home.

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