Dispose old mobile phones securely
How-Tos & Tutorials

7 Easy Ways to Dispose of Your Old Mobile Phones in The UK


We, the Brits, are known as hoarders. According to research by eBay in 2021, our habit of not disposing of obsolete items resulted in stacking things worth £55 billion. The average household items hoarded in the same year were worth £1,784. In 2023, these numbers ballooned at a staggering rate.

When it comes to hoarding outdated gadgets in our homes, a survey conducted by the Royal Society of Chemistry in 2021 found that we’ve locked up 40 million unused gadgets in our houses. Moreover, 45% of us hoard up to 5 old, malfunctioned, or outdated devices in our cupboards or drawers.

Old mobile phone recycling helps you make cash

Now, when it comes to dispose old mobile phones securely, you don’t need to throw them away in the bin or send them to the landfill. You’d be surprised that around 80% of phones’ components are recyclable.

Mobile phones are made of many materials – some of them are expensive – like high-grade plastic, silver, lithium, and even gold. These metals can be extracted and reused. If you want to dispose old mobile phones securely, do it sensibly.

P.S: If you don’t dispose old mobile phones securely, it leads to increased waste in the landfill, and eventually, such harmful waste takes many years to decompose. The toxic elements can add to the pollution levels as they can leach into the soil and surrounding water.

If you keep it in your house for a long, the harmful chemical elements in the plastic casing and phone battery can adversely affect your health.

How to Dispose Old Mobile Phones Securely?

Disposing of your once beloved gadget can be a bitter pill to swallow. Many people don’t want to, and some don’t know how to do it. Worry not; we’ll tell you some easy and beneficial ways you are going to love.

Below are some options at hand if you’ve got an old mobile you don’t want anymore.

  • Sell it for a decent amount
  • Recycle it to earn some money
  • Gift it to someone who needs it
  • Donate it to a charity
  • Trade in your old device for a new one or a voucher
  • Keep it for uncertain times (when your primary phone doesn’t work or if you lose it somewhere)

Best uses of your old mobile phone

Here’s how you can make the best use of it.

1. Gift it to a friend or family member

Friends and family members always come first. All of us have a friend or relative who isn’t tech savvy and least bothered about the latest technology and features in their gadgets. So, even if your mobile phone isn’t the newest model, if it works fine, you can gift it to your friend or family member.

Mostly, it’s the youngsters or our elderly parents who have a knack for surviving with old handsets. It would not only be an upgrade for them, but you can help them explore more using the features they aren’t aware of.

For instance, youngsters can use WhatsApp on their smartphones to join class, play, or friends groups for helpful interactions. They can use YouTube for helpful online sessions and subscribe to informative educational channels for exam preparation. Or to simply keep in touch with parents.

Older adults can use Google maps for easy directions. They can make accounts on social media sites to stay informed and busy.

2. Give it to someone in need (around you)

Be it the peon, janitor in your organization, or a youth you know who works hard to fulfill their educational expenses, they are the best people to present your old mobile phone.

You never know how desperate they are for a mobile device – in these torrid times of inflation – a not-so-old phone will work fine for them. This present from you can be a pleasant surprise for them, and they will remember you forever.

Moreover, just like a teen or an older adult in your family, it will help them in several ways. They can connect to their friends and family or do small things like navigation, get help in an emergency, use it as an educational tool, play games, and many more.

3. Sell the mobile phone in person

There are many options when you want to sell your handset in person. Advertise it on buying and selling groups on social media. Visit mobile markets in your area and get an estimate of how much you’d get for an old phone.

It is advisable not just to visit your nearest shop or market. Visit other areas within your city to explore the best deals. The prices offered by various retailers and old gadget shops can vary based on the market area and store-to-store.

You can get old phone recycling service from most shops dealing in used phones. They will give you two options. Either they’ll pay you the full amount upfront and refurbish the phone or give you a discount if you like to buy a new phone as part of their exchange program.

Whatever option you choose, you are either earning money from a gadget that is old and unused or saving a decent amount if you like to upgrade to the latest one.

4. Sell it online

Amazon and eBay are the first names that come automatically to our minds when we plan to sell something, be it electronics, furniture items, clothes, etc. However, several apps and websites ease your job and offer you easy cash in return for a phone.

Comparison websites like Compare and Recycle, Sell My Mobile, and others like this aid you in finding the best deals in no time. They show you multiple valuations from different companies that are ready to buy your handheld device.

Sometime back, I had a chance to experience one of these sites, and at that time, I was getting £250 for an unlocked iPhone 11 Pro, 64GB. Most online tech-buying companies offer free postage for sending your smartphone.

Before finalizing the deal to recycle mobile phones, read the fine print of their terms on the company website. It will help you if something unforeseen comes your way. Take several photos of your mobile before posting it, and keep the delivery proof with you.

If the company claims that your mobile wasn’t in a good state – not in the condition you mentioned – or it never reached their place, you can counter them with the proofs you already have.

Apart from the names mentioned above, there are many other trusted retailers in the market, like Gumtree, CeX, EcoATM, Mazuma, and musicMagpie, which also deals in items like DVDs, CDs, and books. Go through some of the similar models you are trying to sell to get an idea of the price tag that best suits your device.

Interesting Read: Best Password Manager in 2023 to Secure your Life

5. Donate the mobile phone to a charity

Apart from selling and giving it to a loved one, there are other ways to recycle mobile phones. One of them is to donate it to a charity for a good cause. Many charities in the UK have their centers in different cities where you can donate your phone.

You can donate your old device to a prominent name like WeeeCharity. They will send a person at your doorstep to pick it up free of cost. They reuse, recycle and resell the gadgets to raise money for community welfare. WeeeCharity accepts phones in all conditions.

A leading telecom company, Three also donates phones to charities like the Good Things Foundation and LetsLocalise through its ‘Reconnected’ scheme.

Other names you can trust while doing good are Water Aid and Oxfam. They have clear instructions on their websites telling you how to donate old, unused mobile phones.

Based on the condition of these mobiles, they refurbish and recycle them. According to Water Aid, every phone donated to them helps them raise £5. You can also donate the money earned by selling your tech on eBay’s ‘list of charity’ or other websites.

6. Trade in your phone

Most people know how this phenomenon works. Many companies and high-end stores have the facility where people trade their gadgets like phones, laptops, or tabs for new ones at a discounted price. Apart from the discount on a new device, they can also get a gift card.

The most obvious and common example is the Apple website, where you can trade in your old models of iPhone for up to £565. This price is based on the condition and model of the phone. Older models like iPhone 7 can also save you up to £40.

Visit Apple’s trade-in page to see how much you can save on your next purchase and which model can save you the most money. Below are some leading names that give you the facility to trade in.

Choose the one that suits you based on your requirements like credit in your account to buy from the brand or fast cash, instantly.

Carphone Warehouse: They promise fast payment into your bank account based on your phone’s condition, model, and make.

Currys: You can trade in all your tech gadgets like laptops, gaming consoles, mobile phones, tablets, smartwatches and other gadgets.

Three: Sell your old phones, tabs, and wearable gadgets in return for same-day payments – if they receive your device before 1 pm.

EE trade-in: Be it a smartphone, tablet, or mobile, you can benefit from EE’s friendly trade-in facility. In a statement released EE, the average value of devices traded between Jan – July 2022 was £170.

Vodafone: They accept only phones. In return, you can choose between a money transfer in your bank, credit in your Vodafone account, or saving on the monthly bill.

Before deciding to trade in your old phone for a specific company, check whether they provide free postage or you’ll need to visit their store in person.

7. Drop the mobile phone at a recycling center

Here’s another way how to dispose of old mobile phones securely. Drop your outdated handset at council recycling centres as they happily take electronics like laptops, old PSBs, and mobile phones.

They use metal and plastic shredders for this purpose. After which, the remains are sorted using magnets and near-infrared light. The raw material extracted through recycling saves money as the raw material extracted can be utlized to make other cheap products.

If your handset functions properly or needs a minor repair, it would be great to reuse it by following the abovementioned ideas. Sending it for recycling or discarding it should be the last resort.

Reuse and recycle mobile phone chargers and batteries

If you are one of those people bothered by how and where you can recycle phone chargers and batteries, don’t worry. We’ve got you covered!  It’s simple; you can recycle the accessories with your gadget and not separately.

For instance, if you are selling your smartphone online; or in person, most companies and buyers will ask you for the charger alongside the handset. However, if you plan to dispose of just the mobile battery, drop it at a kerbside collector set up by your local council.

Another option to dispose old mobile phones securely is by dropping them at a collection facility in a shop that deals in batteries, or a battery and charger drop-off point in your nearest supermarket, etc.

Remember, as most batteries are made from Lithium-ion and Cobalt, recycle them responsibly instead of just throwing them in the trash bin. Burning them can be a fatal error as batteries may explode.

Reset your phone

Whether you are gifting your old mobile to a loved one, giving it to someone in need, selling it, or donating to a charity, ensure that you back up all the data and wipe it from the device. This is important because you are safe and protected from unauthorised use of your private data.

Also, remove the sim card and memory card before you hand it to anyone. Here’s how you can factory reset your Android and iPhone.

Factory reset an Android Smartphone

  • Open the Settings App on your device
  • Tap System > Advanced > Reset options
  • Tap Erase all data > Reset phone
  • Enter your device PIN > Select Continue
  • Tap ‘Erase everything to confirm

The points above may vary for different makes and models. You can always consult Google or the phone manufacturer’s website for a guide to reset your Android phone.

Factory Reset an iPhone

  • Open the Settings App on your device
  • Tap General > Reset
  • Tap Erase All Content and Settings

Once you reset your phone and discard all data, you are ready to hand over your mobile to anyone with no worries.

Did we miss any point on how to dispose old mobile phones securely in the UK? Do let us know!

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