How to recycle your old mobile phone

mobile phone recycling

How do you dispose of your old mobile phones? This question is being asked more and more often nowadays, with new smartphone technologies being constantly introduced. As a result, mobile phones are replaced by more modern models, on average every two years. 1

Mobile phones that have been degraded are in turn resold or simply end up in a drawer – often in the vague hope of being able to use them again later. The solution to disposing of old mobile phones is not as easy as one might first think.

Disposal of old mobile phones

There are many reasons why the old, discarded smartphone should be taken out of the drawer. Firstly, mobile phones can be resold to private individuals or companies with little effort. Depending on their condition and model, this allows you to put a few extra notes in your wallet and helps the environment at the same time.2 The production process of smartphones is not without the environmental damage, so the longer the device can remain in use, the better.

Numerous precious metals are used in the production of our mobile companions. For example, a smartphone contains 0.034g of gold, 0.34g of silver, 0.015g of palladium and less than one-thousandth of a gram of platinum.3 These valuable raw materials can then be subjected to a recycling process to conserve our earth’s resources. Whether the collected mobile phones are functional or not is irrelevant, so avoid throwing your phone in with domestic waste and recycle it instead.

How to recycle your mobile phone

Smartphones cannot be recycled quite as easily, and proper disposal itself is a little more complicated. In addition to precious metals, mobile phones also contain pollutants, for example in the batteries, which require special treatment. However, where there is a will, there is also a way – or countless, sometimes interlinked ways, in this case.

Regional recycling yards: Mobile phone recycling

One way consumers can dispose of their used mobile phones is at regional recycling centres. However, this option is only recommended in the case of defective devices or devices that are unsuitable for further use. In contrast to other collection methods, mobile phones disposed of here are not repaired, refurbished or checked for functionality. All mobile phones that end up here are not resold or passed on, but simply disposed of. This means that potential value is lost.

Consumer electronics stores: Disposing of old mobile phones

Another easy option for proper disposal of used smartphones has been available since 24 July 2016, when consumers have been able to return their “electronic waste” directly to retailers.4 However, interested parties must observe a few restrictions here. Only shops with a sales area of at least 400 square metres are obliged to take back old appliances free of charge. If the retailer has different products on offer, like in the case of department stores, only the area where electrical goods are located is taken into account.

Non-profit organisations: Donate old mobile phones

Although numerous mobile phone providers carry out mobile phone recycling campaigns in cooperation with non-profit organisations, it is also possible to return used smartphones directly to the latter.

We hope we have inspired you to dig around in your drawers for forgotten mobile phones and old smartphones and give them a new lease of life. Not only will it help your pocket by disposing of them properly, but it will also help the environment.



[1] Recycle your old Mobile Phone,

[2] What to do with old cell phones?,

[3] Your old phone is full of untapped precious metals,

[4] Electrical waste: retailer and distributor responsibilities,