A businessman holding a mobile phone with a large recycling logo above it — recycling concept

Five ridiculously easy ways to recycle your mobile phone

Whether you have a contract where the cost of your phone is included, or you buy a new phone when you need one, most of us end up in possession of mobile phones we don’t need anymore somewhere along the line.

Many handsets end up lurking in the back of kitchen drawers, where they get forgotten about until they are eventually chucked in the bin.

No mobile phone needs to end up in the bin though — most are 80 per cent recyclable.

In this article, we’ll outline all of the options available for mobile phone recycling.

A pre-recycling note

Before you look at your options, you need to fully clear your phone of your personal data — a factory reset is the best way to do this.

Removing your data from the phone means nobody else can access it and use it for crimes such as identity theft or fraud.

How to recycle mobile phones

Now, let’s look at your recycling options for your old mobile phones.

1.      Gift the mobile phone

A happy mature woman with grey hair holding a mobile phone she has been gifted, sat on a sofa

The phone might not be the latest model, but the chances are it still works perfectly well — in which case, it could be a welcome gift to a friend or family member who can’t afford to buy a new phone or who are environmentally minded.

Often, teenagers and elderly parents end up with old handsets, for example — especially younger teens who only need a phone to keep in touch with their parents if they are out somewhere without them.

2.      Sell the mobile phone in person

Most shops that sell phones offer an old phone recycling service, where they will buy the phone off you and refurbish it or offer you a discount off a new phone in part exchange.

Don’t just go to your nearest retailer — shop around to get the best deal as the prices offered can vary a lot from store to store.

3.      Sell the mobile phone online

Your first thought might be eBay; however, many websites offer cash for old mobile phones.

There are even comparison sites, such as Compare and Recycle, which can find you the best deal in minutes.

For example, at the time of writing, you could get £89 for an unlocked 128GB Apple iPhone 7 in good working condition.

Make sure to read all the small print on the site of the company you choose to recycle with and take plenty of photos of your handset before you post it recorded delivery — this way, you are better protected if the company claims that the phone is in a worse state than you told them or that it never arrived with them.

Of course, eBay or Gumtree are other options to explore — take a look for similar models to your own and see what they are fetching.

4.      Donate the mobile phone to charity

A woman making a heart with her hands infront of her chest, wearing a black t-shirt

If you’re wondering how to recycle mobile phones for charity, there are several ways you can do this.

Most charity shops now accept donations of phones but give them a ring ahead of time if you’re unsure.

Alternatively, you could donate it to WeeeCharity, which collects from your home or business for free and accepts phones in all conditions.

Charities will usually sell your phone to a recycling company, like those mentioned above, resulting in funds they can use towards the cause they support.

5.      Drop the mobile phone at a recycling centre

Council recycling centres take electronics, including mobile phones.

All tech is shredded and then sorted via magnets and near-infrared light. The raw materials unearthed in this manner are then used to create new products.

If your mobile phone is in good working condition, it would make more sense to give it a new lease of life through the reuse ideas listed above before it ends up at the recycling centre.

How to recycle mobile phone chargers and batteries

If you’re thinking, ‘but where can I recycle mobile phone chargers and mobile phone batteries?’, then you’ll be pleased to know that, in most cases, you can recycle your accessories with your phone.

For example, if you sell your phone online, most companies will insist on you supplying a charger alongside the handset.

If you need to dispose of just a phone battery, your local council may collect batteries kerbside, or you can drop it at a collection point in a shop that sells batteries — a supermarket, DIY centre, or similar.

Recycling batteries is important so please don’t place them in your general waste bin.


Stay on our blog if you’d like to learn more about electronic waste recycling.

Published by

Lucy Ravenhall

Lucy is a long-standing editor of the Forge Recycling blog and loves writing about her environmental passions.