The Ultimate Guide To Mobile Phone Recycling


Since the turn of the millennium, the age of ‘being green’ and recycling has consistently grown to become what it has today. Because of this, countless efforts have been made to try and improve the efficiency with which people can recycle. This is also the case within the mobile phone recycling industry, with a huge sub-sector having been created in the recycling industry along the way. However, we still often hear people complaining that there is still a significant amount of effort required from the consumer when recycling an old mobile phone. Therefore, we have decided to put together this, the 101 guide to mobile recycling, where we try to guide you, the consumer, through the process with as little stress/ effort as possible on your part.

Although there are countless comparison services which allow you to compare a range of mobile phone recycling companies it is astonishing to see the amount of people who still go direct to a mobile recycling company without checking a range of prices for their mobile phone on a recycling comparison website. For example if we check the Compare Mobile Phone Recycling comparison service today for an iPhone 4s 16Gb model we see that a consumer stands to make up to £91 more by using the comparison service.

Example of the saving on recycling an Apple iPhone 4s 16GB

Example of the saving on recycling an Apple iPhone 4s 16GB

We can see here the benefit of a mobile recycling comparison service, allowing a customer to make extra money by comparing a range of prices online. You are also given a range of additional information about each company such as payment methods,  payment period and a star rating system based on customer feedback from various websites and direct customer reviews. This allows potential customers to check that the company are reputable and a recycler they would like to recycle their phone with. It is worth checking the payment methods and payment period here if you are looking for a specific way to be paid or require the cash quickly. Overall there are only benefits to using a recycling comparison service and as a recycler it would be prudent to use a comparison service to check the recycling companies willing to recycle your old mobile phone.

We can see the additional information and star rating displayed for each recycling company

We can see the additional information and star rating displayed for each recycling company

Once you have a drafted a short list of companies who are offering an acceptable price and competent service for you to be willing to recycle your old mobile phone, it is paramount to research each company further. On top of a star rating given by mobile comparison websites you should look at external websites to view detailed customer reviews to find out any positive/ negative experiences past customers have had. Also click through from the comparison website to the mobile phone recycling website itself and check the recycling company’s terms and conditions. Some companies offer free postage envelopes where as some expect you to send the phone yourself. Therefore it is important to factor in all incurring costs when making a decision to reflect a true profit from the phone itself.  Finally, when on the mobile phone recycling website it is worth comparing the quoted price from the comparison service and the actual selling price offered from the company. On rare occasions comparison websites can show a different price to the one being actually offered by the recycling company. This is often due to a short update lag or a mistake in data feeds and although it is often a minimal amount and happens rarely it is still important to compare before you sell your phone.

Once you have decided on the company you want to recycle your phone with you will have to click through to the website from the comparison service. From there you can sell your mobile via the recycling company. When you specify the phone’s condition to the recycling company it is important to be truthful. All phones will be checked by an industry expert once at the recycling centre and if your mobile is in a significantly worse condition than what you originally stated the recycling company will offer you less money than their original offer. In general, you will have a far easier experience if you state any problems you know about with the phone before sending it off. Give yourself realistic expectations as the experts will not miss anything which is broken or faulty on the phone and often companies will charge a delivery fee for the phone to be sent back to you. When you fill out the online form to offer your phone for recycling read the descriptions the recycling companies offer for each of their condition options.

A range of examples of different condition options from recycling companies

A range of examples of different condition options from recycling companies

We can see here that many companies offer an option for New. However, new means brand new. Some consumers sometimes send nearly new phone under this option and are disappointed to be offered a smaller amount of money once the recycling company receives the phone. The new option is designed for phones still in the box never turned on before with all the original accessories. Alternatively, the used option is for fully functioning mobile phones which may have some cosmetic damage but has no serious damage to the phone and with a fully functioning operating system. Finally broken, or non-working, refers to phones which have significant cosmetic damage and/ or the mobile phone is not fully functioning in the correct way. This includes broken screen and water damaged phones. However, it is still worth checking the price for your broken mobile phone as most recycling companies will still offer a lowered amount of money for broken phones and either repair them or use the working parts as spares. However, you should again be truthful when filling in the forms.

Once you have filled out the online form for recycling you mobile phone it is important to know what you need to do next. In terms of potage and packaging is the company going to send a prepaid envelope or do you have to deliver the phone to the recycling company yourself? If you have to deliver the phone yourself make sure you note down the delivery address and timescale with which the phone has to be sent. Many companies’ offers only last for a certain amount of time due to the ever changing prices which phones are worth.

One tip, which is of paramount importance, is to protect yourself during the delivery process. Either send the mobile via signed for courier delivery or if you choose to send the phone with The Royal Mail make sure you pay for signed for delivery with insurance on the value of the contents. Although this will cost extra money it is still worth paying as we do hear of rare horror stories where mobile phones go missing in the post and the recycling company cannot be held responsible for the contents . If no insurance was taken from the postal service no value can be recovered. If you wish to send the phone via courier delivery we would recommend visiting Parcel2Go who offer a courier comparison service and provide very competitive prices on courier delivery.


In terms of payment methods make sure you have provided the recycling company with the correct details for your preferred payment choice. If you have selected PayPal make sure you have specified the email address which is connected to your PayPal account. Similarly, if you have selected to be paid via bank transfer or cheque make sure the recycling company has your correct details. Recycling companies will not be held responsible for payments to the wrong account and therefore it is important for you to check that the company has the correct details.

Once you have gathered all the necessary details to need to send the phone it is important to prepare the mobile phone for delivery. The first thing which you should do is back up any important files on your phone which you would like to keep. This includes photos, videos, messages, note or any other content you wish to keep. Once your mobile is sent to the recycling company you will not be able to recover any data from the phone.


We would recommend using either a computer, USB stick or a CD/DVD to back up your files which you want to keep. Some people, who are thorough, like to use two different backup methods to make sure they will not lose any data. Although one backup method should be sufficient there is a slim chance that the data may corrupt or could be lost so if there is some particularly important data to keep it may be prudent to take two backups using different methods. This way you can guarantee that no data will be lost. If your phone also carries an external memory unit such as an SD card it is also important to back up any important files for this also as the recycling company will most likely be expecting this to come with the phone unless there is an arrangement in place or the phone doesn’t come as standard with an memory card included.

Once you have backed up all the files you wish to keep it is important to reset your phone back to factory settings. This will remove all of your personal data on the phone and put the operating system back to the way it was out of the box. Most mobile recycling companies will do this anyway once they receive your phone but it still important for you to do it also as any personal data that is stored on the phone will need to be arranged. As we mentioned above, there are rare occasions when phones go missing in the post and if the phone has not been restored to factory settings there is a chance that people may have access to personal details and accounts which were used on the phone. That is why it is always worthwhile to restore the phone yourself before sending it off. Apart from the mobile phone there may also be accessories which need to be sent with the phone such as changers, headphones or pointers which come with the phone. Recycling companies will often state what they expect the phone to include. Some companies will pay more for chargers included and some companies may discount a price for phones without chargers but this will be varying depending on each company’s policy. Similarly companies will often pay more for any additional items which add value to the phone.

A range of accessories you might find with your old mobile phone which could be worth value

A range of accessories you might find with your old mobile phone which could be worth value

Once you have prepared your phone for sending the only thing left is to send the phone and wait for the recycling company to get in touch. However, you shouldn’t be impatient when waiting. If the recycling company have specified a number of days it will take for them to get back in touch with you then don’t email or call them asking why they have been in touch before the period is over. This is just an unnecessary delay in the process which causes additional problems for recycling companies.


If the recycling company has not been in touch and the allotted time for contact has passed you are well within your rights to contact them and find out why. A delayed response could mean that the recycling company never received your phone and if this is the case it is important to get in touch with the postage company to see if they can locate the phone or if not to make a claim against the insurance. As long as you paid for a tracked/ signed for delivery it should be possible to locate a phone and this should be sufficient proof for an insurance claim should that action be required. However, you should also keep a check on your emails at the email address you provided and/ or the account where you expect to receive payment. Most companies will send a confirmation to say that they have received your phone and also once they have paid you but it is still worth looking into your PayPal or bank account to see if the money has been added. Alternatively, some recycling companies have their own login system to check the status of your offer. If this is the case be sure to check back to the system on a regular basis to look for updates. In a different scenario the recycling company might have reviewed your phone and decided that the phone is not in the condition it was described or that there is significant cosmetic damage to warrant a reduction in the offer for the phone. In this situation the company will either email you or, if they have an online system, message you. Again it is important to check regularly for such messages so you can come to an agreement on an acceptable price for the mobile phone as quickly as possible. From there if you feel the offer is acceptable then you can accept the offer or if not you can decline the offer and the company will send your mobile phone back to you. However, once you have accepted an offer for the phone it is a simple case of checking the correct money comes into your chosen payment method and once you have the money the transaction is complete.


What to do if your phone goes missing?

If you have followed the aforementioned steps and purchased recorded delivery and insurance then you will need to speak to the delivery company and first see if they can track your mobile phone. Using their tracking software they should be able to identify where the mobile went missing or where it currently is. From there you can decide if you need to make a claim to recover the money from the missing phone. If you haven’t chosen to take out the insurance option then this is a very difficult situation to overcome as it is hard to say who is accountable for the loss of the phone and therefore who should pay. This is why we recommend always taking out insurance on the postage to protect against a loss or theft of a phone.

What if a counter offer is placed which I think is unacceptable?

Mobile phone recycling companies are well within their rights to make a counter offer based upon their appraisal of cosmetics of the mobile phone once it has arrived at their recycling depot. Therefore it is important to firstly be truthful when you fill in the online form to send your phone away and secondly check your messages/ emails regularly once you have sent your phone away.  Once the recycling company has made their decision and submitted their revised offer you do not necessarily have to accept it. If you decide that the offer is unacceptable then the mobile phone recycling company have to send you the phone back. Please note that some companies will make a charge for this which is why we always tell people to be truthful when sending their phone for recycling and be realistic about its condition and value. Therefore you should question if the offer is reasonable and if you would be able to get better money for the phone elsewhere.

What if you are paid a different amount than offered?

A mobile recycling company should never pay you a different amount from the original price without first contacting you to settle the offer. If this does happen you have a right to complain to the recycling company and question why you were not either paid the full amount or contacted to try and come to an agreeable offer. It is important to keep all correspondence with recycling companies in order to protect yourself and to have as much evidence as possible in this situation. We have only ever heard of incorrect amounts being paid by mistake rather than on purpose but it still good to safe guard against this potential situation. Using email correspondence you should be able to trace back and prove you have been paid a different amount than what was offered. However, it is important to understand that dishonesty will not allow you to make more money as the recycling companies will also keep all correspondence until a settlement is completed. However, in a situation where you have been paid the wrong amount it is best to contact the company via telephone or email, which will allow you to explain the problem and subsequently get the correct money for your old phone.

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