Mobile phones contain several materials such as plastics, metals and other valuable components like silver, copper, etc. that can be separated and reused. Today, there are many options available for recycling and reusing old cell phones. However, before you decide to sell or recycle your mobile phone, be sure to delete all your personal information and data from the handset.
How to recycle your phone?
The main way that you can dispose of your old mobiles is via the shops that sell them. However, there are many charities and organizations that accept old mobile phones for restoration and recycling. Almost 80% of the mobile phone parts can be recycled, so instead of leaving it in your cupboard or sending it to the landfill, always remember to recycle it.
Sell it online
You can give in your mobile phone for free on websites like Freegle and Freecycle. You could sell your old phone on websites like eBay or use a comparison tool to find out who is offering the best price and then sell your phone.
Give it away to a charity
Most of the charities today accept old cell phones either in a working condition or not. These charities can raise funds by passing on old mobile phones to companies that recycle cell phones.
Family, friends or local events
You can pass on your mobile to your friends or your family members if they are looking for one. You could sell your old mobile phone at any local sale events in and around your neighborhood such as bring and buy sales or garage sales. You could advertise the sale of your mobile phone on the local noticeboards at public places like supermarkets or in the local newspaper.
Sell it on the high street
Ask how you can recycle your old mobile phone at the shop where you purchase your new cell phone. Some companies may provide postal envelopes in which you can send them your old mobile phone via mail, while others allow you to drop off your old handset at some designated drop-off points. You can receive cash for your old cell phone or they may give you a deposit for your new mobile phone. If the mobile phone you wish to dispose of is a reasonably current model and if it is in working condition, many mobile or electronic shops will buy it, especially if the original box, phone charger, instruction manual, etc. are available.
Recycle your mobile phone
If you don’t want to dispose of your mobile phone using any of the above methods, then you can dispose the handset at a recycling or household waste center and put them in the bins labeled “small electricals” or “e-waste”. If you only want to recycle the battery of your mobile phone, then you can check the battery recycling methods locally. Sometimes your local council may collect the battery as part of the home collection service or you can take it to any collection point at a supermarket, a recycling center or even a shop in your locality.
How are mobile phone parts recycled?
Most of the recycling schemes salvage the various parts from the mobile handsets and their accessories and reuse them. The salvaging of the parts may include:
Metals recovery: The parts of the mobile phone are ground up and the useful metal content (both semi precious and precious metals) is extracted. The metal is removed from the batteries too.
Plastic recovery: The plastic is recovered from the mobile handset components using the energy-from-incineration process. The plastic from the outer body of the mobile phone is usually reformulated and granulated and used for the purpose of manufacturing moldings.
Downgrading and recovery of valuable parts: This is usually in the case of flash drives or memory devices.
Re-usage of components: The useful parts of mobile phones include battery connectors, printed circuit boards (PCBs), aerials, integrated circuits (ICs), LCD screens, keyboards, screws, SIM card assemblies, speakers, microphones, phone housings, etc. These are usually reused.
The recycling process
Usually, mobile phone recycling involves the following steps:
The mobile phones are taken apart and sorted into the various components such as PCBs, batteries, handsets, plastics, metals, accessories, chargers and cardboard and paper packaging. The batteries are sorted according to their chemical types and sent to places where they are processed for reuse. The PCBs or circuit boards are processed and the various precious metals such as silver, gold, lead and copper are extracted. All the plastic components in the handset are shredded and are reused to manufacture composite plastic items such as pallets, etc.
The copper wiring from the cell phones is sent for recovery to the metal recyclers. Mixed plastics and other accessories are further processed and shredded, where the plastics are removed from the non-ferrous and ferrous metals and reused. The metals are sold to manufacturers and the plastics are used to make shipping pallets, etc. The packaging is separated into paper, cardboard, and plastic and sent for processing to local recyclers. The benefits of recycling mobile phones cannot be understated. Not only can you get financial gains, but you can contribute positively to the environment. Recycling cell phones can help the environment by conserving natural resources, saving energy and keeping the recyclable materials out of landfills.