Which? uses cookies to improve our sites and by continuing you agree to our cookies policy

Young Britons hoard old mobile phones

They find it hard to hand them in for recycling


A mobile phone

Young Brits are so in love with their mobile phones they find it hard to hand over old handsets to recyclers, according to research out today.

This is despite the fact it could help the environment and earn them – or their chosen charity – cash in the process.

Findings in a report by Mopay, which refurbishes old handsets for reuse, explore the mobile-hoarding habits of 2,000 consumers.

‘Mobile Recycling Attitudes 2007,’ found that 54 per cent of the 18-24-year-old ‘mobile generation’ is hoarding one or more spare mobiles, and over a quarter (28 per cent) are stockpiling two or more.

Bedroom drawer

The favourite resting place for these dead handsets is the bedroom drawer for half of the same age group.

Whilst the majority keep one handset in case their other one breaks down, emotional attachment and fond memories also play a major role.

In fact 18-24 year olds are so fond of their mobiles that 18 per cent admit they hoard them because they have an emotional bond with them and over a fifth (22 per cent) because of the photos stored on them.

Guilty secrets could also be another reason they won’t let go of their old phones, with 54 per cent of 18-24 year olds storing things on their old mobiles that they don’t want anyone else to see or know about.

Confidential texts are stored by 29 per cent of respondents.

Recycling options

Mobile phones are one of the least likely items for 18-24 year olds to recycle and 60 per cent don’t know that mobiles contain hazardous substances that can damage the environment.

Most aren’t aware of the mobile recycling options open to them. Almost half don’t know that you can make money and 41 per cent are unaware that money can be made for charity by recycling an old mobile through a mobile recycling company.

Simon Walsh, co-founder of Mopay, said: ‘Many people just don’t see phones as something that can be recycled in the same way as paper or plastic, even though they are as likely to re-use an old handset as they are an old plastic bottle.

‘And despite the fact all personal information on recycled handsets is completely wiped, people also seem to fear that their phone secrets will get out, which is totally unfounded.

Cash back

‘A million-pound phone mountain is piling up in Britain’s bedroom drawers. Over 15 million mobiles are discarded in the UK every year. If they were all recycled they’d be worth over £386 million to consumers, based on average cash-back value.

‘Putting the cash aside, everyone should be recycling their old mobiles so that they are reused or disposed of in an environmentally responsible way. Eventually, hoarded handsets end up in landfill, or are just dumped, and the toxic metals in them can have a hugely damaging effect.’

The Press Association, All Rights Reserved.

Back to top