How to recycle your old smartphone

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I’m sure you’ve accumulated some used smartphones or old feature phones in your desk, kitchen, or office drawer that you haven’t used in a long time. But what do you do with dusty old devices and old chargers? Today, we will explain why and, more importantly, how to recycle them.

Why it’s important to recycle electronic devices

I can understand that you might want to closely guard your old StarTAC made by Motorola in 1996, or the popular and indestructible Nokia 3310, perhaps received as a gift in 2000, but what will you do with the phones that you have accumulated over the years?

Years go by, technology evolves and old mobile phones, which have become smarter over time, accumulate dust in and clog up the drawers of our houses as well as weigh on global pollution. Old phones or new smartphones are all part of the WEEE Directive in Europe, or the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive to use its full name. The United States does not have an official federal e-waste regulation system, although some states have implemented state regulatory systems.

Because of the substances toxic to the environment contained in these devices, this waste cannot be just chucked in with together with the others. That’s why it’s important to protect the environment by recycling your old electronics devices.

The WEEE Directive

There are different types of waste that fall into the category of electronic and electrical equipment. So that devices can be collected and then disassembled and treated using specific tools, WEEE is classified into 10 groups:

  1. Large household appliances 
  2. Small household appliances
  3. IT and telecommunications equipment
  4. Consumer equipment
  5. Lighting equipment
  6. Electrical and electronic tools (with the exception of large-scale stationary industrial tools)
  7. Toys, leisure and sports equipment
  8. Medical devices (with the exception of all implanted and infected products)
  9. Monitoring and control instruments
  10. Automatic dispensers

Smartphones are part of the third category: IT and telecommunications equipment.

androidpit broken fallen smartphone cracked
Do not pollute, recycle your old device! / © AndroidPIT

Where and how to recycle WEEE

WEEE collection centers

WEEE may be taken to municipal collection points specifically set up for this type of waste. The technological devices collected are then transported and disposed of in special infrastructures thanks to the services offered the European Recycling Platform. On recycle-more.co.uk, you can enter your postcode to find the nearest collection point in the United Kingdom.

Electronics shops

If you find it difficult to reach the collection point in your region, you can always knock on the door of the points of sale which, by law, are obliged to take back WEEE and then transport them to the common collection points for future recycling and recovery according to European standards.

European telephone dealers are also obliged to take back small electromechanical devices (the longest side must be less than 25 cm) and you can, therefore, turn in your old phone there without feeling obliged to buy a new one from the same carrier.

You can only deliver your old electronic device to your dealer when you purchase an equivalent new device from the same sales center. This means that if you decide to buy a new smartphone, you can deliver the old one to the dealer and do a straight swap.

Apple Recycling Program

Apple is also committed to the environment and invites its users to deliver their old devices (iPhone, iPad, and Mac) to the brand in exchange for a cash payment or gift card. The American brand has been opening its doors to this for years and those who want to give a PC, monitors, and smartphones made by other manufacturers (Android included of course) can also do so in the Apple Store.

Apple allows you to select and evaluate the device that you intend to give away specifying the current status of the display, power supply, keys, body of the device, and any damage caused by liquids. The estimated value will be paid in the form of a gift card that can be used at the Apple Store.

apple iphone xr 04
Thanks to Apple you can also recycle your old Android. / © AndroidPIT

Go to the page dedicated to the program, fill in the forms and consider what to do. Apple also accepts portable batteries and is willing to recycle, responsibly and at no cost, even devices that do not work and are therefore judged to have no residual value.

Charity

It might seem absurd to give your old mobile phone, which is certainly not a smartphone, as a gift. It’s not like that! Although these are old devices, donating them to charity can help save the environment and raise funds for projects of various kinds.

Several associations are carrying out initiatives aimed at recycling old devices for a good cause. So if you have unused telephones at home, it’s time to get rid of them and make two good gestures in one: donate it for a project that’s good for you and will protect the environment (plus free a little more space in your home)!

Do you have any old phones in your house? Do you know other ways or initiatives to recycle old phones? Protect the environment and get rid of it by choosing the way that suits you best.

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