Do you have a collection of broken phones gathering dust in your home? Or perhaps now that you have a new phone, you want to know what to do with your old one. Then it’s time to recycle!
In Australia alone, there are 23 million used phones gathering dust in drawers that could be repurposed in many excellent ways. Including donating, selling, and of course, recycling. Keep reading to work out the best way to recycle your old phone or devices.
Why Recycle Your Old Phone?
With climate change on the rise, it’s never been more critical to dispose of your old phone properly.
Unfortunately, you can’t recycle your mobile phone through your curbside bin. Mobile phones are made from dangerous materials that can’t biodegrade in landfills. However, they can be repurposed in many ways that can benefit the natural environment. Recycling your phone can reduce:
- Soil contamination. When mobile phones are thrown away rather than recycled, they can contaminate the soil and water surrounding them.
- The need for new raw materials. When you recycle your phone, its materials are separated and then repurposed to make new devices, which therefore protects the natural environment and its creatures.
- The amount of energy used when manufacturing and extracting materials to make new phones - which lowers the number of greenhouse gases in the air.
- The massive amount of e-waste accumulating in landfills. The average mobile phone user replaces their device every 18 months, which, when it’s thrown away, will end up in landfills, adding to the e-waste problem.
What to do before recycling your phone
Whether you’re selling, donating, or recycling your phone, before you do, ensure you’ve removed all your personal information and data.
1. Start by backing up any critical files, photos, videos, and music to a storing system (iCloud for iOS users & Google Drive for Android devices).
2. Once all your personal files have been removed; you should sign out of all your accounts, e.g., App stores and social media platforms. During this time, you should also disconnect any paired devices.
3. Remove any sim or micro-SD cards from the phone as they can’t be recycled with it.
4. Finally, perform a reset on the phone. This will restore it to its factory setting and erase all your content.
You can still recycle your phone even if it’s broken and you can’t access the data to reset it— phone recycling companies destroy any data remaining during the repurposing process.
How to Recycle Your Old Phone
It’s never been easier to give your broken or old phone a new life. You could:
1. Repair your phone: If it’s just your phone’s battery or the screen that’s not working, these minor issues can be fixed. Many phone-servicing companies can do this for you, and this process can be cheaper than buying a new phone.
2. Sell your phone: Many people choose to buy a second-hand phone because they’re cheaper. So, if your phone is still in good working condition or you bought the wrong one, you could sell it online on websites like eBay, Gumtree or Facebook Marketplace.
3. Give your old phone to a friend: If you have a friend or family member that needs a phone and yours is in good condition, you could give your phone a second life with them.
4. Donate your phone: If your phone is still working well and has been restored to its factory setting, then you could consider donating it. Some charities in Australia will accept old working phones and gift them to those in need. Find out more.
5. Recycle your phone: If your phone is broken and doesn’t work anymore, then it might be time to recycle it. In Australia, you can post or drop off your old phones to recycling bins for free through MoblieMuster - a recycling company authorised by the federal government.
Tip: Most mobile phone recycling companies also accept phone accessories like chargers or headphones. So don’t forget to recycle all the device’s accessories to reduce clutter in your home.
Can your phone be recycled?
In Australia, all brands of mobile phones can be recycled through Mobliemuster, whether that be an iPhone, Google Pixel or Nokia. Recycling companies like Mobliemuster also accept:
- Mobile chargers
- Gaming consoles
Where Can You Recycle Your Phone?
In Australia, there are many local drop-off bins where you can recycle your phone, including with providers like Optus, Vodaphone, Telstra and also Officeworks. Find the closest recycling drop off point near you.
You can also mail your old phone into recycling centres like Mobliemuster for free. Find out more.
What Happens to Your Recycled Phone?
The great thing about recycling your phone is over 95% of its materials can be recovered and repurposed to make new products.
Recycled phones are first taken to a centre where they can be disassembled into parts, e.g., batteries and screens. During this time, the phone’s materials, including glass, aluminium and plastic, are also collected to make new phones.
Each component of the phone has a different recycling process (shredding, crushing, or heating) to maximise what can be repurposed. Some parts can be remade into jewellery or coins, whereas others are recycled to make new phones or batteries.
This circular system saves money, resources, and our natural environment.