Mobile phones have come a long way since they were introduced, so we’ve brought together a glossary of the words used to describe some of the technology used within iPhones and Android devices, and what they mean.
How can I recycle my gadgets?
You might remember the three “Rs” that most of us were taught as children; reduce, reuse, recycle. They refer to reducing the environmental waste and protecting the planet. Manufacturers have also started taking a more mindful approach to do their part.
Large industries like fashion, energy and food are major contributors to the problem. The technology industry is also responsible. It accounts for 3-5% of the world’s electricity consumption.
Digital devices consume about 7%. The more the demand for gadget production grows, the greater the environmental damage.
Many companies and manufactures have goals to help reduce their carbon footprint, but you too can help.
Can I recycle my mobile phone?
With a huge 40 million unused gadgets in our homes, isn’t it about time you cleared out your ‘tech’ draw?
The good news is that you can, and you definitely should. Your smartphone isn’t the only gadget you can recycle. You can also recycle your laptop, tablet, Nintendo or any old iPods you might have lying around.
Most gadgets nowadays are made of recyclable materials. Think batteries, chips, plastic/glass screens, plugs, cords and more. So basically, there’s no reason not to recycle.
Why recycling gadgets is important
Minerals like copper, tellurium, lithium, cobalt, tungsten, manganese, nickel and graphite are some of the most essential for tech. They are responsible for the manufacturing of electrical elements and materials.
They are also some of the earth’s most precious minerals and it takes great effort to extract them from mines. Sadly, the working conditions are not the most humane in the countries of origin. So, recycling your smartphone and other gadgets would also minimise the negative impact on those workers.
For those who are all about the ‘geeky’ details:
- Copper (Used for wiring of all kinds. It conducts electricity and heat very efficiently. It is also the most sought-after mineral for the production of mobile phone components).
- Tellurium (Used in alloys. It makes metals more durable and resistant to corrosion.)
- Lithium (Most people would have heard of lithium-ion batteries and their long-lasting properties. They’ve pretty much become the gold standard of the majority of laptops, smartphones and other chargeable gadgets.)
- Cobalt (Essential component of lithium-ion batteries. Also used for creating water-resistant alloys.)
- Tungsten (Four times heavier than titanium and it’s used to create a counterweight mechanism. This makes your phone vibrate whenever you receive a call or a text.)
- Manganese (Used as a cathode material in lithium batteries.)
- Nickel (Used in mobile phone electrical connections, capacitors and batteries.)
- Graphite (Graphite sheets in particular are used to dissipate heat in electronic gadgets.)
What is e-waste?
E-waste is waste that comes from technological equipment. It also happens to be one of the most hazardous kinds.
The industry currently uses the following disposal methods:
- High temperature thermal disposal techniques. This method is considered to be the least damaging. It turns waste materials into useful energy by converting them into ash, flue gas and heat.
- Open burning
- As the term suggests, this process involves burning the items to ashes. This is one of the most harmful methods as it pollutes the air and impacts health.
- Landfills are sites which are used to dispose waste. This is the least environmentally friendly method as it requires occupying large amounts of earth space for waste. Industries that use this method are trying to reduce their landfill waste to a minimum.
Luckily, recycling your tech is becoming increasingly popular. If you no longer need your iPhone 11 or your Google Pixel 4, recycle it.
Where can I recycle my phone?
Here are some other ways with which you can help the environment:
- Postpone upgrading your phone or any other gadget.
The less you have to throw away, the better. New phones get released every year. Do you have to have the latest one if your current smartphone is still working?
By waiting a few more months, or even another year you could prevent another gadget from going to waste.
And perhaps save yourself some money when that brand new phone reduces in price!
- Gift your phone to a family member or friend.
Any opportunity to reuse a gadget is a golden one. By trading/giving away your tech, you are re-entering the gadgets into the market. This in turn helps to reduce the amount of e-waste.
If you have a friend or relative that isn’t that fussed about having the latest tech, consider giving them your old gadget(s).
Just check the phone can still install software and security updates, and don’t forget to remove all your data by doing a factory reset on your phone.
If your gadget is too old, generally speaking Android phones and tablets aren’t supported after 3 years, whereas iPhone or iPads tend to get five years.
- Trade in your gadget
If you have to have the latest iPhone or Samsung, you can trade your old phone through the manufacturer. By trading your tech, you are re-entering the gadgets into the market.
This in turn helps to reduce the amount of e-waste. If you have to have the latest iPhone or Samsung, you can trade your old phone through the manufacturer.
For example, if you have a working Galaxy S8 or iPhone SE (2020), then you can trade your old phone through the manufacturer or retailers such as Carphone Warehouse, Tesco, Three and Vodafone.
By doing this, not only do you help to reduce the amount of e-waste. You may also receive money off a new device, or sometimes a gift card.
- Sell your device
Why not earn some extra cash by selling your old tech instead?
There is no point in having old smartphones sit in a drawer whilst they still have value. If you still want to benefit from them, especially if they are still in a good condition, sell them.
Some good places to go to are:
a. Money 4 my Tech
b. Recycle Rebuild
d. Laptops Direct
Take care if you decide to go down this route as many of these phone recycling companies may use a grading system. So, what you may be expecting to get for selling your old gadgets, the value may get reduced once they’ve assessed the condition.
- Donate to charity
It feels good to donate to a worthy cause and there are a few charities that will accept your gadgets such as:
Fonebank – They are a trade-in site but you can also donate part or all of the proceeds to one of three charities: WaterAid, Oxfam and the National Trust.
Good balance to wanting to do something good but also helping you get some money to help with the cost of a new phone.
WeeeCharity – They’ll pick your gadgets up free of charge and reuse, recycle or resell them to raise money.
Tesco Mobile Reconnects – In partnership with Crisis, takes your old phone and ‘converts them to cash’, the proceeds then go into a pot that helps supply phones and other gadgets to Crisis.
Please note, some charities may not accept devices that are too old to receive security updates.
- Consider e-waste recycling facilities close to your area.
Just do a Google search for places to recycle phones near me. A popular example you might come across is:
a. Recycle your Electricals
b. Recycle Now
Steps to take before you recycle your gadgets
Android user? Follow these steps: Tap the cog icon (Settings) -> Find Backup & Reset -> Click Factory data reset then Reset phone and ‘Erase everything’.
Sign out of Google Account and/or iCloud
Clean your phone, a quick wipe of the screen and back, using a microfiber cloth may make the mucky screen look a little cleaner.
Lastly, if you choose to sell your phone, or are sending your device to one of the gadget recyclers listed above. Then make sure you properly package your phone in a padded jiffy bag or box with sufficient packaging (bubble wrap, brown paper etc).
Insurance2go and SPB UK & Ireland recycling efforts
Insurance2go is committed to contributing positively to the environmental cause.
We do this by monitoring the disposal journey of all the gadgets we collect during our claims procedure. To remain compliant with the rules and regulations of SPB UK and Ireland, which we form part of, we ensure that the environmental impact that our actions have are reduced to a minimum. As a result, we always look to re-use and recycle to achieve our environmental goals.
During our claims journey, when we receive gadgets which are beyond economical repair, we recycle the gadgets’ parts so that they may be reused in the future. Prior to recycling the devices, we ensure that all personal data has been wiped for Data Protection Purposes.
Tracking the disposal journey of all electronic gadgets from start to finish is important to us. This includes monitoring the recycling process even after the gadgets leave our facilities.
We also ensure all regulations that relate to the collection, processing, recycling and disposal of Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) are adhered to.
To make sure that our efforts are successful all the way through, our network of certified recyclers and licensed waste carriers diligently follow the same processes as well.
We also check to make sure they conform with The Environmental Protection Act and The Hazardous Waste Regulations.
Even the packaging we use to send our customers their repaired/replacement phones is 100% recyclable. We also recycle any packaging that we receive when customers send us their devices for repair.
As part of SPB UK and Ireland our Environmental Management System (EMS) is created by the rules and standards set by ISO 14001, of which SPB UK & Ireland are certified. ISO is the name for the International Organisation for Standardisation, an independent body where certification helps demonstrate that your products or services meet the expectations of customers.
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