Confessions of a lazy recycler

My first phone was a Nokia 3210.

I remember it well – it sported an ill-fitting Spider-Man cover, and I would strut round the school grounds with it set to vibrate, and say “my spider-phone is tingling!”

I was beaten up a lot a school.

Despite this, I have very fond memories about that old Nokia – memories which surfaced recently when I found it in a cupboard during spring cleaning. And it wasn’t just the phone – I also found a Nintendo Game Boy, a printer and a battered old wireless router.

That got me wondering: why were they just sitting in a dusty drawer instead of being recycled? After all, I try to recycle where I can.

I’m not the only one – new research from  (that’s us) reveals that 77% of Brits recycle their electronic devices. Clearly, unlike me, the majority of people already understand the importance of properly disposing of broken or outdated technology.

Even so, that also means that almost a quarter of people in the UK don’t recycle their electronic equipment and, what’s more, I’d be willing to bet that, like me, many people who do recycle still have drawers full of gadgets and gizmos they’ve never got rid of.

That’s supported by the broadbandchoices research – the vast majority of people polled admitted they own at least one electronic device they no longer use.

A significant number of them – 16% – have two pieces of tech lying around, and the same proportion has three. Some people even said they had 10 or more unused devices lying around at home.


This begs the question why are we letting our old gadgets and gizmos take up space in cupboards and drawers rather than recycling them?

There are many possible reasons. In my case, I simply hadn’t got round to getting rid of the router or Game Boy. That appears to be the case for many people – the most common reason given for not getting rid of unwanted electronics is that people simply don’t have the time.

It’s important to make time though. Technology, be it a banged up old router or a broken iPad, doesn’t break down on its own like a lot of regular household waste. Many electronic devices end up in landfills, taking up valuable space and sometimes leaking corrosive chemicals into the ground – chemicals which can take as long as 20 years to break down.

Of course, time isn’t the only reason people don’t recycle more technology. Quite a few people didn’t know how to recycle technology, and some didn’t even know that you could.

There are plenty of ways of dispose of electronic items. Most local authorities have recycling centres where you can get rid of things conscientiously, though some may charge for disposing of electronics.

Also, with some types of technology, you can pass iot on responsibly and earn a bit of cash in the process. Although this is assuming you’re willing to part with it in the first place…

Spare parts

See, the router and Game Boy were still in my house as a result of inexcusable laziness, but the mobile phone was a different story. That, I was intentionally holding onto, originally as a spare, but I suspect also partly out of nostalgia.

This is ridiculous when you think about it; a modern micro-sim wouldn’t fit in my old Nokia, plus mobile phones are probably the easiest technology of all to get rid of properly – that’s probably why our study revealed that mobile handsets were the most commonly recycled devices of all.

Envirofone’s Fay Shannon is equally dismissive of the notion of holding onto old phones as spares: “When you upgrade what else are you going to do with your old phone? Keep it as a spare? Yeah – because they always get used! You can sell faulty or broken phones. You won’t get as much cash, but what else are you going to do with it?”

It’s a valid point.

Spring cleaning

So if, like me, you uncover some of your old gadgets and gizmos while cleaning out your home this spring, don’t just stuff it back in the cupboard. Take the time to dispose of it properly – it’s the responsible thing to do, and you never know, you could even make a bit of money.

Duncan Heaney : Google