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What happens to Phones in Landfill?

Many people receive new technology this holiday, and throw out their old phones, laptops and tablets. When technology hits landfill, the toxic metals and flame retardants they contain can cause harmful environmental issues.  Yet even recycling your technology, does not always mean you’re doing the right thing.

A study conducted by Vodafone and YouGov showed us that over 4.7 million Brits admitted to throwing their old phone away in a general waste bin, instead of trading it in or recycling the device safely. Of the people that said they keep their old device as a back-up, nearly 60% of them confessed to never actually having to use it. It was calculated that the average UK household could sell unwanted tech and have an extra £200 in their pocket. Overall, nearly 60% of households in the UK have one to three devices lying in their drawer unused.  With over 16 billion mobile phones worldwide, in Europe alone, only a third are in use.

Jim Puckett, the director of the Basel Action Network, said ‘when electronics are recycled, 80% of the material produced is shipped to countries like China, India, Nigeria – where dirty things happen to it’.

So how should you recycle your old tech? You should always make sure your recycler is going to find a solution for the tech to be reused. If refurbishment is not an option, reputable recyclers will use mechanical shredding to separate the useable materials that can be sent out to smelt. Even seriously outdated devices can be really useful as they can be extracted for the exact same materials as the newer devices.

“Reuse is always more environmentally sound,” says Puckett. “If you can give that an extra life — an extra couple year’s — and so refurbishing is really what you want your recycler to do.”

 If an item is being recycled but could be useful to someone else, it can be cleaned of data, tested, refurbished, and sold as a refurbished or used item to another consumer. This is the process we follow at Mobile Reborn, partnered with Frift. Finally, there is electronics recycling, in this case, items can be shredded into small parts. Those parts are separated into plastics, metals, and glass where they can be melted down and used in the manufacturing of other products. At Frift, we decide whether your device is recycled, or refurbished and sold.

That said, it’s not just phones that can be recycled. Old electrical items including computers, laptops, iPads are just as important too!

If you’re not yet recycling your tech, it’s better to start sooner than later! Trade in your old devices using our sister website Frift!