by Rob James for RPC Phone Recycling
Recycled mobile phones and tablet computers represent an important resource for developing countries and in reducing environmental damage. Millions of phones are dumped every year as users upgrade to new handsets, while tablets are exchanged and either kept in the home, or thrown away in some cases. Mobiles and tablets contain trace elements of precious metals like gold, silver and titanium, and can be recycled for use in developing countries by charities, as well as through the harvesting of parts. Cash or exchanges can be provided for these devices. EU WEEE Directives on e-waste are encouraging stricter recycling standards for manufacturers and consumers to avoid landfill damage.
Some of the ways in which mobiles and tablets are recycled include:-
Third World and charity
Many of the phones and tablets given to recycling companies, often in exchange for payment, are redistributed in the Third World.
They are repackaged and given out by charities to villages, and in economically depressed areas.
Many of these phones are used to improve the communications infrastructure of remote areas, and as a way of building better links with the rest of the country.
Other mobile recycling schemes include the Phones for Food program, and links between Vodafone in the UK and the WWF Foundation.
Older tablets are also recycled in the same way, and represent important educational tools.
Old phones and tablets can be sold to companies, who strip out silver, metal, titanium and plastic for their scrap value.
The financial benefits for consumers is high, with an exchanged iPad 2 able to generate £220 in recycling value, while a first generation iPad can receive a payment of £130.
As long as phones are in working order, they can receive hundreds of pounds for high-end, or recent devices like the iPhone 4S.
Handsets are stripped for metals, and plastic is used for traffic cones and other industrial uses.
Multiple companies now offer exchanges and benefits for mobiles and tablets.
An iPad 3 can be purchased as part of an exchange for an iPad 2, with BlackBerry Playbooks and Samsung Galaxy tablets coming under similar schemes that reward upgrades.
Apple also offers trade ins for tablets and laptops. Older models can be resold at discounted prices, or can be used for parts in manufacturing by the same companies.
If you don’t want to receive money for your old phone and tablet, you can opt to hand them over for free to a charity, or to friends and family.
The latter option is particularly valuable if you want an easy way to get rid of an old model that is still in working condition.
Donating tablets to schools is also recommended if you want to give something back to your local community. Charitable tax deductions can be made, in some cases, for these give aways.
Whenever you recycle a mobile or a tablet, make sure that you wipe all of your personal data, as this may not always be carried out after you send it.
Remove SIM cards and any personal information from handsets, and erase contents and settings on a tablet.
Some companies will offer additional hard wipes, which will ensure that there is no danger of identity theft, and that devices are able to be sent on to new owners.
Rob James is technophile working in conjunction with RPC Phone Recycling. He can be found blogging on many topics including mobiles, tablets, PCs, and apps.