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How to recycle your old gadgets after Christmas

Just been gifted a shiny new phone or laptop, and not sure what to do with your old tech? You’re not alone.

These days, every man and his dog is offering conflicting advice about the best way to dispose of hi-tech items, which makes it pretty difficult to know the best, and most responsible way to get rid of unneeded electronics. But in this sea of inconsistent advice, there’s one unifying fact: you really, really, REALLY, should recycle any electronics you no longer want.

So before you chuck your old tech in with the rest of your weekly garbage, read on for a clear guide on the best ways to recycle electronics.

Why you should recycle old electronics

The main reason that should recycle your old tech is pretty simple: even the most basic laptop, phone or tablet is chock-full of precious materials that can be reused. The same is true of devices from TVs and games consoles to blenders and hair dryers.

Recycling is important since the Earth’s supply of materials – which can include gold and tungsten – are limited, and mining operations in order to supply them to the tech industry can cause major harm to the environment. It’s even more important since there are parts of some electronics that aren’t naturally biodegradable and can therefore be hazardous to the environment. This is particularly true of batteries, which contain acid and other harmful chemicals.

Electronics you can take to recycling centres

Sadly, you can’t simply drop your electronics into your green wheelie bin with used cans and bottles. If it has a plug, batteries, requires charging or has a crossed-out picture of a wheelie bin on it, you’ll likely have to take it to a recycling centre.

To save you having to figure out what you can and can’t through in the waste, nearly every electronic item will need to be taken to a specialist recycling centre. Thankfully, there are a good number of such centres littered all across the UK. Find your nearest one using Google Maps, or the Recycle Now website – which, alongside bringing up a list of the nearest centres on entering your postcode, will also outline the services they offer.

Related: Best phone

Electronics recycling schemes

If the tech you want to get rid of still works, or you need a financial incentive to deal with the added hassle of recycling your old tech – editor’s note: shame on you if that’s the case – there are also a wealth of trade-in schemes you can turn to.

In the UK, Currys PC World has a walk-in tech recycling scheme where you drop off any unwanted electronics, even if you didn’t buy from the company, no questions asked. If you don’t want to lug the kit into a Currys PC World store then you can also pay the company £15 to pick up larger items, such as kitchen appliances and widescreen TVs. Argos offers a similar service.

Apple, too, has a trade-in policy for old iPhones and the like, even offering store credit on select bits of old tech.

If you need to get rid of a mobile phone in particular, then Carphone Warehouse and most UK networks also offer active recycling programmes.

Like Currys PC World and Argos, Carphone Warehouse has a drop-off programme where you can leave unwanted phones at any store for recycling. As an added bonus, the company will also donate £10 to charity, including £5 to youth helpline Get Connected, for every handset it receives.

For those who don’t want to take a trip to a store, Vodafone, EE, O2 and Three‘s trade-in programmes allows you to post your old phone or tablet in for recycling. The networks also offer cashback for the phones, giving you a chance to get a pretty hefty discount on your new phone or tablet of choice. Get a quote for how much you’ll get for your old phone by visiting each of the networks’ websites.

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