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Graveyard Shift: Where Smartphones Go To Die

rocket scientist

E-Waste, or waste in general, can be scarily dangerous to our planet. Thankfully, there are a number of systems in place to help prevent E-Waste.


If we didn’t all do our bit to be responsible with E-Waste, however, the damage it could cause to Earth and local areas it’s deposited in could be massive.

The Different Places a Smartphone Goes to Die

Let’s take a look at the different places smartphones go to die when you get rid of them. We’ll first take a look at the most responsible options available. We’ll then go onto look at what happens when people aren’t responsible for their E-Waste.

Smartphone as Hand-Me-Downs

One of the best ways to get rid of your old smartphones safely is to give them to other people. You can either give them to friends and family, sell them on eBay, or sell your phone back to your mobile network provider for cash.



In fact, giffgaff provide their own second hand phone service that allows you to earn a bit of money whilst making sure your phone goes to a new home instead of being thrown in the cash.


You can find out more about selling phones for cash on giffgaff here.

Shredded Down For Resources

If you don’t hand your old phone down to a new owner, you can still send your electrical appliances and smartphones to your local recycling center.



When you send off your smartphone to be recycled, it will be placed with all of the other electricals in a recycling plant.


All of these electricals will be shredded down to tiny pieces. High powered tools that use magnets and infrared sensors then separate all of the different materials found in these shredded pieces.


All electrical items include a number of valuable metals that can be reused, as well as some plastics. At the end of it all, the majority of an electrical item will be recycled to be used again, whilst a very small portion of the item may be left behind and then dealt with directly.


If you throw your electrical items straight in the trash, it won’t go through the right recycling channels and as a result it will be thrown in a landfill and left to sit along other rubbish.



There’s a very big problem with throwing electrical items into a landfill - they won’t degrade and they may simply be collected up with other electronics and then shipped out to countries where the laws for disposing of electrical items are more relaxed.


An example would be India and other developing countries. According to this study, more than 90% of discarded electricals are sent to places like India,  China, Ghana, and Pakistan.


The electrical waste will sit in gigantic heaps, the metals inside the electricals will slowly seep into the atmosphere, causing damage to wildlife, local ecosystems such as rivers and streams, and to humans too.

What Can You Do?

To have peace of mind and to avoid causing damage to our planet with your old smartphone, the first best thing you can do is hand your smartphone to another person. Give it away or use resell services like the giffgaff one we pointed out earlier.


If you can’t give away your smartphone because it’s completely broken, you can see if there are companies that recycle your smartphone for you. Sometimes manufacturers will even take completely broken phones so that they can re-use the parts themselves.


Failing that, take your smartphone and other electricals to a recycling center. They will be dealt with in the most environmentally appropriate way. Never throw your electronics in your general waste bin, as easy as it may be.




ollie_1.jpgOllie (zerodudex333) is a big mobile/tech fan. He posts blogs on Monday and Tuesday Mornings.

Follow his Twitter and his Instagram travel account.




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I use mine as a radio now...


Unfortunately 'pass it on' recycling only works if the final user is responsible. A lot of phone re-use will involve our cast-offs being sent to developing countries, so the end result isn't much different from the export of waste electrical equipment. Re-use, or rather continued use, is obviously better than throwaway and build more, but we shouldn't kid ourselves that our responsibilities can just be passed on with the item.


I still have all the phones I ever owned bar one. I use a few with cameras as a makeshift security system. One is the bedroom radio and a couple I expect to become collectable ( hopefully ) Any I do scrap I intend doing so  responsibly. Good blog.

good to be right



Thanks for an interesting read ( as always  ) thumbup.gif

anyone have any idea why my internet has all of a sudden not working , I've still got my goodybag running??

Good blog. Mine tend to end up at the bottom of a drawer. Between myself and my wife there must be up to a dozen old phones and chargers sitting in there. Really should look to dispose of them correctly. Thanks.


I reused my old phone as a sat nav.


Unfortunately we live in a consumer age! Commercials are thrown at us via all channels available (including subliminals)! I usually hand them down to my friends and family (smartphone, laptops etc). 

Smartphones can be used as internal (or external if suitable) surveillance devices, sat nav, dash camera, remote control etc 

I still have my Nokia 7250 (phone and camera) from 2003( just lays in a drawer enjoying its retirement) ... 




Tend to use mine until it doesn't work rather than change it every year (cheaper for me and limits what needs disposed).