Donate old phones to Oxfam for recycling

Have you replaced your phone, but do not know what to do with your old one?

Most people upgrade their phones every two years and stash the old ones in their drawers. According to a survey conducted by the Royal Society of Chemistry, there are about 40 million pieces of technology hidden in drawers all over the UK.

Mobile phones contain many valuable materials and components, 80% of which can be recycled. Smart phones contain valuable scarce elements from mines, like gold, silver, copper, indium, tantalum, palladium and platinum. The metal, indium, is used to make conductive coating for sensitive touch screens and can also be used to make solar panels, while tantalum can be used in a variety of vital medical devices.

The UN estimates around £7 billion worth of gold is currently lying in landfills worldwide and the total value of recoverable parts could be as high as £34 billion.

In the UK alone we are responsible for around 1.5 million tonnes of electronic waste, and only recycle around 17 per cent of this. The Environmental Audit Committee says that the UK is producing 24.9kg of e-waste per person, higher than the EU average of 17.7kg.

Without proper recycling, landfills become toxic mines of dangerous substances, which can be hazardous to human health and the environment, as they start contaminating soil, polluting water sources and entering food supply chains. Heavy metals, ozone depleting chemicals and lead glass will decompose in landfills which can cause serious environmental problems in the future.

Charities such as Oxfam offer a recycling scheme where they turn every mobile phone into cash to buy supplies for impoverished communities, such as water tanks, wells, tools, seeds, school books and more. This applies to iPods and tablets as well, which can be refurbished, repackaged and reused, or taken apart into separate components by specialist recyclers to be reused in the industry.

Their recycling partner company, CMR, repair, recycle or recondition the phones that are donated and also wipe them clean of all data including names and numbers that are stored on the phones. Working phones are given a new life, and are sold abroad; some even end up in developing countries and can help communication in areas where landlines do not exist.

You can donate up to five phones to the Oxfam shop in Oundle. Or visit the Fonebank website to find out the value of your unwanted mobile, and how to trade it in for cash and make a donation to Oxfam at the same time.

Meagan Iu
December 5, 2019