What do you do with an old cell phone?

What to do with old technology

Many Germans keep their old cell phones – they can be disposed of easily, safely and properly. Photo: Caroline Kramer / dpa-tmn

(Photo: dpa)

There are currently around 206 million discarded mobile phones in use in German homes. Bitkom identified this on the basis of a survey. 83 percent of German citizens have at least one unused cell phone at home. Many even have two old phones (24 percent) or three (57 percent) in the drawers. According to Bitkom, two-thirds of them have already disposed of or transferred cell phones. After all, 16 percent will keep any old device.

Backup and delete data

In terms of an efficient recycling economy, it would be important to professionally reuse or recycle old appliances, according to the association. But what should be taken into account?

Forty-five percent of those surveyed said they kept their old cell phone but did so because they were afraid for their personal information. The problem can be solved relatively easily. If all important content is backed up externally, mobile phone owners should delete all private data – such as photos, videos, address book, as well as user profiles and access to online banking, Bitkom advises. The best way to do this is to use the ‘Reset device’ function.

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Older devices should also be encrypted – that’s usually the default for newer devices, they say. This works via internal memory settings or within item security. Then the memory and SIM cards must be removed from the device.

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Donation is an option

Environmental organizations or charities are happy to receive used equipment. Old phones are sent to locations abroad or sold for recycling services, according to the Consumer Consulting Center in North Rhine-Westphalia.

If mobile phone users do not want to donate or resell their device, there are various ways to dispose of the unused portion. Like other electrical appliances, municipal waste collection points accept discarded appliances.

But manufacturers, mobile phone companies, and retailers are also restoring devices, according to Bitkom. Cell phones are either delivered directly to the site or mailed – mail-free envelopes can be ordered online.

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