International E-Waste Day: The truth about smartphone waste

What Mobile
October 14, 2019

  • 95% of UK households have mobile phones and more than half have at least one unused electronic device
  • Electronic waste is growing at a rate of 3-4% per year
  • urges consumers to recycle smartphones and reduce e-waste!

Independent mobile phone comparison site,, reveals startling statistics surrounding electronic waste ahead of International E-Waste Day (14th October) and encourages consumers to help reduce electronic waste, save money and protect the planet!Globally, around 40 million tonnes of e-waste is improperly disposed of every year, and much of it is sent to developing countries where it ends up in landfill, is illegally traded or burned for raw materials. Containing metals including lead, cadmium and mercury, when not properly recycled, our smartphones and digital devices can contaminate the environment. Polluting the air and water, these toxins can be lethal for people, plant life and animals living nearby. While there are regulations around the safe disposal of electronics, only 20% of it is recycled annually!

How do smartphones contribute?

95% of UK households have mobile phones and almost half (51%) have at least one unused electronic device tucked away home just waiting to end up in a landfill. With the average British consumer replacing their smartphone every 27.7 months, around 24.9kg of e-waste, is produced per person in the UK. The amount of e-waste produced globally is growing at a 3-4% rate per year[.

What can you do to help reduce e-waste?

E-waste is a global issue, however, Compare and Recycle reveals a few simple steps individuals can take to be more sustainable with your personal smartphone use. 

1. Keep your smartphone for as long as possible

Resist the annual offering of an updated model with attractive new software features and hardware changes. Keeping your phone for longer than two years, unless it has become completely unusable, will avoid the C02 emissions a new phone releases during the manufacturing stages.

2. Choose a refurbished smartphone

Refurbished smartphones are devices that have been given a second lease of life. Cheaper to purchase than contract phones, not only can you save hundreds of pounds but also one less smartphone needs to be manufactured and one less becomes e-waste!

3. Recycle your older devices

When you do come to part with your old devices, make sure you recycle them through a credible source so they can be recycled properly, and harmful components won’t end up in a landfill. A plus is you will also make some extra cash!

Over the past five years, Compare and Recycle has recycled thousands of the UK’s old mobile phones. As a result, it has saved 17 tonnes of iron, 6 tonnes of cobalt and enough copper to make 2.1 million pennies from entering a landfill.

Matthew Moreton, Managing Director at Compare and Recycle explains, “E-waste day reminds us that our consumption of the latest technology can lead to unnecessary and dangerous environmental consequences. There is no denying that technology plays a vital role in our lives, however, we promote more sustainable and responsible use. 

“When the time comes to update your phone, rather than leaving your old handset to gather dust in a drawer, losing value and eventually ending up in the bin; use our site to determine which recycler will offer you the best price for it. The money you earn can go towards your new phone and our unique comparison tool will also help you find a great deal on a refurbished device. Recycling your phone is an easy way to reduce e-waste and it can save money in the long run. What have you got to lose?”

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