The charity Computer Aid is encouraging consumers to hand their old technology like mobile phones to family and friends, so that they can be used right up to the end of their productive life before recycling them.
This is controversial in the mobile phone recycling industry, as consumers often find they will get the best price for their old mobile straight after they have upgraded it.
It’s important to realise that mobile phone recyclers do not automatically recycle phones though; this will only be done as a last resort if the phone cannot be refurbished and reused.
So what are the benefits to reuse over recycling? According to a report by Computer Aid, reuse avoids the need to extract more valuable resources or expend energy in the manufacture of new equipment. The report states: “refurbishing computers and mobile phones for reuse can use up to a third less energy and is more “ecoefficient” than newly manufactured equipment.”
The report argues that Reuse is better than recycling because recycling “can still demand high amounts of energy and other inputs (for transport, disassembly, destruction and other processing) to recover the desired product fractions. Recycling does not always recover all of the raw materials, creating residual wastes that will require disposal”.
It’s important to realise that the life cycle of your phone does continue even after you’ve finished with it.