Even if many people use smartphones for significantly longer than they did just a few years ago: sooner or later, practically every cell phone will be retired. Once the successor has been put into operation, the old smartphone often ends up unused in a drawer. Although the idea of a possible backup cell phone is quite understandable, these drawer devices are disadvantageous from an environmental point of view. Selling, giving away or donating are clearly the better options here. Alternatively, old or non-functioning smartphones should be disposed of properly. Ideally, many of the built-in materials can be recycled - and there are quite a few of them.
If possible: save and delete data
If the old smartphone is not completely unusable, you should definitely delete the data stored on it and, if necessary, back it up beforehand. Any existing SD cards should also be removed from the devices before disposal. Although iOS and Android have been encrypting personal data on smartphones for some time, you should still play it safe. You can find out how to completely erase your smartphone in these articles:
- Securely delete Android
- Reset iPhone
Dispose of cell phones correctly: many options
If you want to completely dispose of an old smartphone, the most important rule is without any ifs or buts: The device must never end up in the household waste. The built-in materials would be released when burned in the landfill and thus become a burden for the environment. But don't worry, there are many ways to dispose of a smartphone in a professional and environmentally friendly manner.
One of these is handing in the device to an electrical retailer. As part of the Electrical and Electronic Equipment Act, which came into force in Germany in 2016, specialist retailers with a sales area of 400 square meters or more must offer to take back and dispose of old cell phones (and of course other electrical devices). Many online retailers such as Amazon or Otto are also obliged to take back old devices and recycle them properly. If in doubt, simply ask whether and in what form a dealer offers the take-back. Alternatively, you can also hand in electronic devices at municipal recycling centers in the appropriate electronic waste bins. In contrast to household waste, correct recycling is ensured here. In large cities there are also often special garbage cans for electrical devices.If necessary, simply ask the municipal waste disposal company..
Cell phone manufacturers also have to take back their old devices. Large companies often offer so-called trade-in procedures for this purpose. Manufacturers such as Samsung or Apple make offers to trade in a predecessor when buying a new device. If the corresponding model does not fall within the trade-in conditions, the manufacturers at least offer free and professional disposal.
Not only the cell phone manufacturers, but also the providers enable old devices to be recycled with practically no restrictions. Deutsche Telekom , Vodafone and o2 offer the option of returning old devices to shops or sending them in by parcel. As a rule, this service also includes the deletion of personal data from the smartphone. The providers also work with nature conservation associations such as NABU to make cell phone recycling particularly environmentally friendly..
Alternative: sell instead of scrapping
Of course, an old cell phone doesn't always have to be recycled or gather dust in a drawer. Instead, you can also sell the device and thus ensure that it stays in use for a significantly longer period of time. In addition to online auction houses or free Internet advertisements, you can also try your luck at one of the many buying portals. Many vendors buy used cell phones at a decent price and usually offer more than the manufacturers in their trade-in programs.
Even defective devices could be of interest to one or the other buyer and thus bring in money. Hobbyists in particular are often interested in certain parts of smartphones, so that they can still bring in a few euros. If in doubt, just try a negotiated sale. If no one contacts you, you can still take the disposal into your own hands. When selling, however, it is even more important than with recycling to cleanly delete the data stored on the devices (see above). You can read here what else you should consider when buying used smartphones.
Donate old smartphones to good causes
As an alternative to selling, you can simply give your old cell phone away or donate it to a good cause. Many aid organizations offer the opportunity to support a good cause by donating old smartphones. The spectrum ranges from supporting children in need to donating to tropical forests for every recycled cell phone.
Corresponding projects are running, for example, at organizations such as Pro Wildlife , We4Kids , Oro Verde or Mobile Box . Simply choose the aid organization whose goals suit you most and provide a little support with your discarded smartphone.