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How to recycle correctly: How many phones do you have lying around?

Phone, Laptop, Tablet – How to donate and recycle old devices!

Do you have any old phones, laptops or tablets lying around at home and you don’t know where to put them? Then you’re not alone. According to Statista, there are over 200 million unused phones just in Germany. But why is that a problem?

They all contain rare earth elements. These are not as rare as the name suggests, but their production is incredibly harmful to the environment. Extracting rare earths from old devices instead is an important way to reduce environmental and humanitarian damage and reuse valuable materials. And by recycling your old equipment, you’re directly contributing to a reduction in environmental pollution.

We’ll show you how and where you can conscientiously recycle your old devices for a good cause.

Table of content:

Why should you recycle your old phone?

A pile of old smartphones.

Rare earths are found in an incredible number of technical items in our everyday lives: from phones to TV devices to windenergy plants. Industry relies heavily on them, and demand is rising steadily.

Unfortunately, only 43% of the german electronic waste – including phones, tablets and laptops – is properly disposed. This means that valuable resources cannot be recycled in a reasonable way, which – small fun fact – also violates the Electronic Equipment Act, by the way.

The resulting lack of rare earths must therefore be extracted using acids, fluorides, heavy metals, thorium and uranium, often under poor working conditions. The resulting waste materials are also highly polluting. It is therefore important to stop leaving old devices lying around in a drawer and to recycle them instead, to reduce the extraction of rare earths.

3 places where to conscientiously recycle your old phone or tablet

Label for the redemption of electric device.

1. AfB | Recycling with social added value

Europe’s largest non-profit IT company offers you the opportunity to return up to three small devices with a maximum size of 25cm (smartphones & tablets) using a free shipping label or directly return them to an AfB store (go to store search). Devices over 25cm in size (most laptops) can also be returned free of charge when purchased new. If you send them in without buying a new device, transport and disposal costs may be charged.

The special thing about the AfB is that people with and without disabilities work together to refurbish and resell used devices. This does not only save valuable resources but also creates great social added value. Devices that are no longer usable are professionally recycled.

2. NABU | Recycling to support the protection of insects

Together with Telefónica Deutschland, NABU offers you the opportunity to order a free collection box with which you can collect and send in as many cell phones and tablets as you like. This way, you cannot only bring your own devices back into the cycle, but also collect old devices from friends, family and colleagues. Simply set up the box and wait until it is full. At the same time, you can also send in individual devices via a free shipping label.

Each year, Telefónica donates a fixed sum to NABU for the collected phones, which flows into the NABU insect protection fund. In 2021, 100,000 euros have already been collected.

3. Pro Wildlife | Recycling to support animal welfare

You can also order a free collection box including an information flyer from the phone collection campaign run by Pro Wildlife and Deutsche Telekom – but only smartphones without built-in batteries can be sent in this box. Alternatively, you can use your own box for collection or send in individual devices yourself. For larger quantities, you can also contact the organization and have the devices picked up from wherever you are.

For every smartphone donated, a fixed amount goes to the Pro Wildlife ape conservation program, which is committed to saving endangered species like gorillas and chimpanzees.

Here you can have old laptops refurbished for students

Laptop on a table.

Hey, ALTER! – Laptop, Computer and Tablet for students

According to the motto “Old computers for young people”, used but still functioning laptops, computers and tablets can be handed in at Hey, ALTER! These will be refurbished and distributed to children and young people who have had limited opportunities to participate in homeschooling. Just contact the team with some information about your old device and they will get back to you with more details as soon as possible.

The initiative already exists in almost 40 cities. If there is no initiative in your area yet, you can contact and receive active support in starting your own initiative to promote more equality.

What must be considered before you phone recycling?

Before you ship your old phone (or other devices) for recycling, there are a few things you need to keep in mind.

  1. Transfer and/or delete all data on the phone (or other old devices).
  2. Remove the SIM and memory card off the phone.
  3. Please leave the battery inside and feel free to include the charging cable.

Important note! Loose batteries are not allowed to be sent along for safety reasons.

In the case of devices with loose or defective rechargeable batteries, it is essential to ensure that the batteries are disposed separately in electronic waste or recycled in stationary stores. Otherwise a short-circuit could cause a fire. Damaged lithium batteries or those recalled by the manufacturer can also not be recycled! Devices with defective battery holders can be secured with adhesive tape so that the batteries are not lying loose in the box.

The vostel employees at the Tempelhofer Feld.

Have fun donating and recycling old devices, your team!

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