Britons are collectively hoarding more than 52 million unused mobile phones worth £1.1 billion, research shows.
The average mobile phone user has 1.39 handsets that they no longer use, worth an average of £22.40 each, according to mobile phone operator T-Mobile.
The group said most consumers replaced their phone every 18 months, with around 15 million handsets replaced in the UK each year.
It has launched a mobile phone recycling scheme to help people put their old phones to good use and reduce landfill waste.
Under the scheme people with an old phone, regardless of which network they were with, can send it to the group in a free-post recycling bag, available from T-Mobile stores.
Phones which are in good condition will be ‘refreshed’ and re-sold in emerging markets, while other handsets will be broken down and recycled.
In return T-Mobile will give consumers or a charity of their choice a refund of up to £80.
People can find out how much they would get for their old mobile by going to www.t-mobile.co.uk/recycling and selecting the manufacturer and model of their phone.
The group said handset costs were the main barrier to people using mobile phones in emerging countries.
It said in most European countries the network operators subsidised the cost of handsets, often providing them free.
But operators in emerging countries could not afford to do this, meaning that handsets were often too expensive for people to afford.
Devine Kofiloto, principal analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media, said: ‘With a stockpile of over 52 million handsets sitting redundant at home, there is an opportunity for all mobile phone owners to get their share of this £1 billion.
‘The issue of mobile phone recycling has been discussed across the industry for several years – now is the time for people to realise that they can do their bit and raise money either for charity or themselves at the same time.’
* IPSOS MORI questioned 2,000 people during May.
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