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How to Dispose of Electronics Guide

How to Dispose of Electronics Guide

Do you have hidden treasure in the form of old electronics sitting at the back of your cupboards and hoarding your storage spaces? More often than not, the answer for most Brits will be a resounding “yes”. In Britain, we are a nation of hoarders. According to research by eBay, we are so unwilling to bin unused items that we have a staggering £48 billion of belongings hidden away in our homes, with a typical household hoarding items worth £1,784!

Rather than letting your old gadgets collect dust or disposing of old electronic devices into the bin – which can be an environmental hazard – why don’t you consider selling or recycling when you dispose of electronics? In this guide, find out how to dispose of electronics safely, for the environment and your personal data, as well as the various different ways of disposing electrical items from your home.


CONTENTS:

1. How to cash-in on your phone?
- How much is my phone worth?
- Can I sell my broken phone?



According to a survey by eBay, around one in three people take time to clear-out every year, but one in 10 only sort out belongings when they move. Therefore, it is unsurprising that the average Brit has more than two unused phones at home – 10% of us are even holding onto five or more working or damaged devices!

Sound familiar? Thousands – if not millions – of us place our old mobile phones and electronics out of sight in the back of cupboards, never to be seen again until it’s time to move or declutter. So, how can you make the most of your unwanted and unused gadgets? Read on to discover what you can do when you dispose of electronics.

1. How to cash-in on your phone?


Photo credit: Parilov / Shutterstock

There are a number of trade-in websites and shops on hand, catering to people who want to make quick buck on their old electronics – quickly and hassle-free. They often accept a range of items, including unused kitchen appliances, old laptops, games consoles and, most commonly, mobile phones.

Some popular trade-in shops, including CeX and Cash Converters, can be found on most local high streets and in close proximity to main towns. However, let’s be honest, sorting it out online is often the easiest option, especially if you frequently find yourself busy during the weekdays due to work commitments or childcare.

But whilst they may be the quickest and easiest route, selling your unwanted electronics through specialist trade-in sites isn’t the only way to make cash from your old mobile and electronics. If convenience isn’t that important to you, you can get significantly more by selling your unused devices yourself! Here are some other options to help you dispose of electronics – some of which may even bag you some more cash in the bank:

  • Pass it onto friends or family
  • Selling online (via eBay, Amazon, Gumtree, Shpock)
  • Selling via social media groups (e.g. Facebook’s ‘Marketplace’, Depop etc.)
  • Re-use it
  • Give it to charity

 

How much is my phone worth?


Photo credit: Marta Design / Shutterstock

You may be wondering: “Are my old mobile phones even worth anything?”. Before you consider selling your old electronic devices, it is worth finding out just how much they are worth.

The amount of cash you can get for your old phone varies significantly by the model, age and condition, so it’s worth doing your research. Although, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at just how much you can get for your old gadgets – even old electronics from over 10 years ago will be worth something!

Here at RecycleZone, we collate pricing from many mobile phone selling sites who offer cash for your phone, to save the bother of trailing through countless web pages to find the highest payer for your old device. We are experts in the phone recycling field, so it is worth noting that you are likely to get more money for your phone if it is:

  • In good condition
  • ‘New’ – around 1 to 2 years old
  • A premium device (think iPhone X standard)
  • A popular device – iPhones and Samsung phones are in high demand
  • A popular colour (black or silver may be more valuable than gold, for example)

Although, if your phone is particularly high in value, the company may decide to sell your phone on a selling site (such as eBay or Amazon) themselves. So, if you believe this is the position you are in, you may want to consider selling it yourself to get the most money out of your old phone.

Can I sell my broken phone?

Photo credit: Alim Yakubov / Shutterstock

Most mobile-buying firms tend to offer one price for a fully working phone, and another if it's damaged but still meets certain criteria. Most companies tend to have a section on their website specifically for selling broken phones where they offer a reduced price.

So, don't worry if your phone screen is cracked – you'd be surprised at just how much you can get for the right phone. Often, used handsets are often refurbished or broken down to small components and sold individually, so they're still valuable even if they are looking worse for wear. Although, be aware that phones that are water damaged, physically broken or unresponsive, they are unlikely to get you much cash – if any at all.

If it’s not worth the time or money refurbishing or stripping the device, sometimes companies will dispose of old electronics in an environmentally-friendly way. In this case, it may be worth recycling your phone, instead of trying to flog it – carry on reading our guide to recycling electronic goods to find out more about how to recycle safely.

2. Is your data safe when getting rid of old electronics?


Photo credit: Rawpixel.com / Shutterstock

Before selling, giving away or recycling your electronics, such as laptops or mobile phones, you should back-up all of your data and wipe all of your personal information from the device. You don’t want someone else finding out your personal details and having access to your photographs and phone numbers or committing fraud. 

How to reset iPhone to factory settings in four steps?

  1. Tap Settings > iCloud. Scroll down and ‘Sign Out’. In iOS 7 or earlier versions, tap ‘Delete Account’.
  2. Tap ‘Sign Out’ again, then tap ‘Delete from My iPhone’ and enter your password. 
  3. Go back to Settings and tap General > Reset > ‘Erase All Content and Settings’. In iOS 7 or later with ‘Find My iPhone’ turned on, you'll need your Apple ID and password.
  4. If asked for your device passcode or restrictions passcode, enter it. Then, tap ‘Erase [device]’.

 

How to wipe a Samsung phone in four steps?

  1. Open your Settings > ‘Backup and reset’.
  2. Click onto ‘Factory data reset’ and then ‘Reset phone’.
  3. Enter your pin or pattern to confirm.
  4. Click ‘Erase everything’.

When sending your phone to its new owner or an electronics recycling company, it is worth bearing in mind some simple steps to ensure there are no problems later down the line. Remember to charge the device to 100% and send it switched off, without the Sim or memory card. Remove any security or pin codes that will obstruct the new owner or company from getting into the phone. To do this, just opt for the reset factory settings on your phone’s menu, which will also wipe any private data that may be stored on the phone.

3. How to recycle electronics?


Photo credit: Africa Studio / Shutterstock

Never – I repeat, never – throw old gadgets away. Of course, you can get rid of your old electronic devices, but never put them directly in the bin. You don't want to be responsible for allowing toxic chemicals to become exposed to the elements. This is why most resellers will dispose of electronics to ensure they are recycled responsibly, in an environmentally-friendly way.

Where can I dispose of electronics?

Recycling of WEEE (waste electrical and electronic equipment) is a specialist part of the waste and recycling industry. Put simply, this includes anything that requires mains power (via a plug or a charger) or a battery to work – including mobile phones and phone chargers.

Many of us are not aware that items such as irons, toasters and mobile phones can be recycled so they just end up sitting unused in a cupboard or drawer or are simply thrown in the bin. However, according to Gov.uk, televisions, laptop computers, tablets and mobile phones with screens should be disposed of carefully and safely, as some components are hazardous and you're also putting potentially toxic materials in the ground. Lead, mercury and other substances can leech from old monitors and circuit boards into the air and ground water, and possibly even affect people's health. 

Some hazardous components may include any of the following:

  • Activated glass
  • Phosphors
  • CRT
  • Fluorescent backlight
  • Printed circuit boards (containing nickel)
  • Capacitors
  • Ni-Cd batteries for portable devices


So, you may not be worrying about how to dispose of electronics safely. To ensure you are recycling correctly, it is best to check your local council's rules to find out what can be recycled, to avoid unintentionally recycling the wrong items and filling up landfill space in your area. You can check this via the Recycle Now website, which gives you detailed information about what you should and shouldn't do, as well as a list of the best places near your postcode to dispose of your electronics goods.


Remember, if you throw out your old electronics, not only are you taking up increasingly scarce landfill space with valuable resources (like plastic, metal and glass), you are wasting materials that could be made into new devices using less energy than it takes with virgin resources.