What happens to mobile phones when they are recycled?There are plenty of companies who advertise that they will pay your for your old mobile phone handsets and tablets, but what exactly happens to your handset when you send it to them?

Apparently, only around 3 percent of all mobile phones sent in for recycling are beyond economic repair.

When a mobile phone arrives at a recycling centre firstly it’s IMEI number (a unique number that identifies valid devices on a GSM network and stops stolen mobile phone from accessing the network) is checked to ensure it is not a stolen mobile phone. The phone is then checked to see what condition it is in.

Handsets that are deemed repairable are refurbished. Around 20 percent of mobile phones sent in to recycling centres will stay in the UK with the rest being sent to emerging markets such as Asia and Africa.

Handsets that are deemed beyond economic repair contain valuable materials which can be recycled. Most will contain metals such as copper, gold, platinum and silver. Mobile phone batteries contain nickel which can also be recycled. This is done by a smelter. The handset is melted down and the liquids are separated out. In one metric tonne of old mobile phones without batteries, around 308 pounds of copper, 7 pounds of silver and half a pound of gold can be extracted on average.

Some plastics from the handsets can be melted down to form products such as traffic cones. Some parts may even be reused in their entirety – parts such as PCBs (printed circuit boards), connectors, keyboards, phone housings, screws or speakers.

Naturally, the mobile phone recycling process is evolving and changing. Mobile phones are getting more environmentally friendly – newer models contain less cadmium and lead than they used to. Mobile phones are also getting noticeably lighter and this means less materials to recycle.

Want to know if you can recycle your old mobile phone? Check here to see if there are any companies prepared to recycle your old mobile phone handset or tablet – all you need is the make and model of your old handset and CheckoutSpy will show you all the mobile phone recycling companies who will accept your phone and how much they are prepared to pay for it.

Category: Gadgets, Price Comparison, Recycling
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