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Environmental impact of electronics recycling

There’s more than just one reason you should recycle electronics for cash – as well as walking away with extra money in your pocket, you’re helping to protect the environment from dangerous toxins within these gadgets which can cause serious harm.
By recycling phones and other gadgets, you’re preventing the mass build-up of e-waste (electronic waste) in the US and around the world. Keep reading to find out exactly why we’re so passionate about recycling cell phones and keeping gadgets out of landfill.


  • The impact of cell phone recycling

  • Cell phones in landfill

  • What can you recycle?

  • Dangerous toxins in gadgets

  • How to reuse and recycle

Environmental impact

With more cell phones than people in the world right now, it’s more important than ever to ensure you recycle electronics in the right way. Just imagine – there are 1.88 phones per user in the US and just one cadmium cell phone battery has the potential to pollute up to 60,000 litres of water – by going to recycle cell phones you’re helping to prevent critical environmental damage.

The impact of cell phone recycling

As well as protecting the Earth’s water supply, by recycling cell phones you are slowly contributing to a healthier planet in other ways too. Not only are you keeping the nasty chemicals out of our soil, you’re also recycling precious, valuable metals like silver and gold which can be used again – reducing mining and preserving precious metal sources. You’re also preventing unnecessary phone manufacturing and the energy waste that comes with it.

What if your cell phone went into landfill?

Globally, it’s thought that around 7,500 tonnes of toxic, electronic waste leaks out of cell phones and into the soil – which is actually really bad news for us. If these toxic chemicals are in our soil, they can get into our food and water supply too, which is bad for the environment and potentially our very own human health. Check out the ‘toxins in gadgets’ section below for more information on these dangerous chemicals.

Phone recycling facts

Gadget recycling can prevent huge environmental damage – these shocking facts truly prove that we need more awareness around cell phone recycling.

  • 140,000,000 cell phones will end up in landfill this year

  • This means 80,000 pounds of lead could leak into the earth

  • Cell phones contain materials like Coltan and Beryllium which don’t break down naturally

  • One Cadmium cell phone battery could pollute up to 60,000 litres of water

  • Toxic chemicals found in gadgets have links to Cancer and other diseases

  • 50 million unused phones can produce 10 tonnes of gold

  • Refurbished cell phones help to improve communication in developing countries

What can you recycle

Gadget Valuer can help you sell electronics of all shapes and sizes, showing you how to recycle cell phones instead of throwing them away. Simply click on the image below to start the electronics recycling process, find your gadget and start comparing trade in prices today.

Toxins in gadgets

Although manufacturers are trying to create devices in the most environmentally friendly way possible, there’s still a long way to go – and unfortunately that means that your old and new gadgets still contain dangerous toxins. But what exactly are these toxic chemicals, and are they actually proven to be harmful? Unfortunately, the chemicals used to create electronics can indeed be dangerous, especially if they’re consumed by humans – and that’s exactly why we need to recycle cell phones and keep them out of landfill. Read more about some of these chemicals below.


Lead exposure is linked to learning disabilities, growth and memory issues as well as digestive problems. It’s also a suspected carcinogen.


Mercury poisoning can cause heart problems, high blood pressure, blindness and uncontrollable tremors. Long term exposure can cause seizures and death.

Brominated flame retardants

Research shows that these can cause hyperactivity and learning and memory issues early on in life. Chlorine containing BFRs is a suspected carcinogen.


Acute exposure can cause inflammation of the lungs, it’s also a known carcinogen and can permanently damage human kidneys.


Forms are known to cause lung, kidney and liver cancer. Serious Bromine poisoning can also cause brain or kidney damage from low blood pressure.


Although we need certain amounts of Zinc, too much results in Zinc toxicity which can lead to tremors and stomach issues.

Recycle cell phones and make a difference

By looking at the above facts, it’s clear to see the damage that could be done if electronics are not properly recycled – especially seeing as there are over six billion global cell phone subscriptions – but if we work together we can all make a difference! You can help to keep those toxic chemicals out of landfill, which means you’re helping to keep them out of the earth and water and you’re helping to keep them away from human consumption. Keep reading to find out exactly how you can get involved with electronics recycling – even if your device isn’t worth much, it can still be put to good use!

Reuse and recycle

There are loads of electronics recycling options available when you choose to sell your phone, or even if you don’t. Check out the following options:

Recycle cell phones online

Using sites like Gadget Valuer, it’s easier than ever before you sell your cell phone. By simply finding your device on the website and clicking on it, you’re instantly presented with top phone trade in prices from leading recycling programs. All recyclers listed on this site recycle phones responsibly.

Find a drop off center

So you can’t get much money for your old phone? That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t recycle it! Find a local drop off center and give your phone in there. These initiatives refurbish and reuse old phones in ways you never knew possible. Check out our donate cell phone page for more options.

5 creative ways to reuse your phone

  1. Use it as a flash drive – your old phone might have loads of storage space! Use it to store your favourite music, photos and films!
  2. A new emergency-only device – Even without a SIM card you can called 911 from a cell phone.
  3. Create a security system – Use an old web cam or phone camera to set up some DIY surveillance for your home.
  4. Wireless music systems – Why not use your old iPhone to wirelessly play music stored on your Mac?
  5. Use it as a sat nav – Like having maps on your phone but hate the battery drain? Use an old phone as a sat nav instead!

Eastern African Gorilla

Throwing away materials doesn’t only affect us, it can have a huge impact on wildlife too. Take Coltan, for instance – a material found in all cell phones. Coltan is found in Central African forests, which means the mining business is huge. What’s the problem with this? Many animals are slaughtered during the mining process – with some even illegally selling ape meat to further profit from their surrounding environment.


Due to the booming Coltan business, thanks to the growth of cell phones, there are now thought to be over 10 thousand illegal miners in these parts of Africa – having a detrimental effect on the environment and ape population. Essentially, gorilla populations are declining while illegal miners grow in wealth due to Coltan demand.
So how can cell phone recycling help? Well that one’s simple. The more cell phones recycled, the less demand there will be for Coltan because we’ll be reusing what we already have. This means more and more illegal miners will be out of work, and we can help to protect the East African gorilla population.

Donation programs

Even if your phone isn’t of huge value anymore, you shouldn’t just throw gadgets in the bin – we’ve given you enough reasons why this is a bad idea, after all! There are a number of donation program options available to you, who’ll make sure your phone is disposed of in the appropriate way.

  • Trade in cell phones online

  • Find a local cell phone donation location

  • Donate cell phones to charity

  • Give cell phones to solider collection programs

  • Donate cell phones to fund anti domestic violence programs

  • Give old gadgets to a friend in need!