What should you do with your old devices? Recycle or repurpose?

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Steve wants to know the best way to dispose of his old devices in an environmentally friendly manner.

Q. Steve
My kids saw fit to update my phone and tablet for Christmas and now I have transferred everything that I have needed across and cleared my old devices, but now I am stuck with what to do with the old obsolete devices. They are pretty old, and the battery life is almost non-existent, so I can’t imagine they would be worth donating. I’m assuming that I can’t just throw them straight in the bin. What is the best thing to do with old devices? And what happens to them?

A. You are right, you definitely should not throw devices directly into your rubbish bin. These electronic devices contain toxic substances that can poison soil, water and ecosystems if they end up in landfill.

There are essentially three options for what to do with your old equipment – you can recycle them, give them away or repurpose them.

Recycling
Mobile phones and tablets are made up of metals, plastics, glass and ceramics and around 95 per cent of these material can be recycled.

Some councils will have regular e-waste collection days, which can be an appropriate time to get rid of a whole bunch of unused equipment.

If your council doesn’t offer this service, MobileMuster is a free, not-for-profit mobile phone recycling program that accepts all brands and types of mobile phones, plus their batteries, chargers and accessories. You can drop the phone at a collection point or any of the major mobile phone retail stores or download a mailing label and send it in the post for free.

Giving them away
Even though you mentioned that your old devices don’t have much battery life, you would be surprised at the people who would be happy to pay the small amount required for a replacement battery, rather than forking out for a new device.

There are many parents looking for low-cost options for their kids’ first phones, so you may even be able to sell these devices.

Giving away or selling your old devices is actually much more environmentally friendly as it reduces the number of phones that are produced in the first place.

It sounds like you have already cleared your device, but YourLifeChoices has a checklist before you sell or give away your electronic devices.

Repurposing
There are a number of things that you might not have considered when it comes to your old devices.

Comprehensive security systems can cost a fortune, but there are cheaper options for securing your home, such as using your old smartphone as a security camera. Simply download a free app that uses your device’s camera and point it at the area you need surveillance and leave it plugged in to a charger. You’ll be able to see what your old device sees from your current device and can even set up motion alerts to be notified when there is movement.

Other potential uses for your old devices include turning them into a universal remote, a backup drive for family photos or using them instead of an alarm clock.

What do you do with your old devices?

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Written by Ben

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