Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

17.40 12 Nov 2020


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With many people upgrading their phones regularly, drawers and shelves across the country have unused devices going to waste.

It's estimated there are up to five million discarded phones in homes in Ireland, according to an e-waste index report by reBuy.

However, there are many good reasons to recycle or trade-in your device when upgrading.

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Newstalk's technology correspondent Jess Kelly spoke to The Hard Shoulder about why there are so many old phones lying around - and lots of new phones coming out as well.

She observed: "There are so many new models of phone coming out... if you look at Apple, Samsung and Huawei alone, they've released around 12 phones between them this year. That's a lot of new devices coming out.

"People do upgrade without the phone being on its last legs... without letting it come to the end of its natural life. And they pop it in a drawer.

"Sometimes it's for a back-up purpose... but then that poses the question: if the old one works well enough to be your back-up phone, should you really be buying a new one?"

Jess noted that Apple are now offering up to €480 off new iPhones for those who trade in their older device.

Many phone manufacturers and smaller firms sell on refurbished phones - meaning the devices remain in circulation rather than just sitting in a drawer.

Valuable material

Mindy O'Brien, coordinator of environmental group VOICE, also spoke to the show about why it's important to recycle phones.

She explained: "There are a lot of rare metals in these phones... and also gold, copper, silver. There's a lot of valuable material.

"That's another reason why these companies want them back - these are non-renewable resources.

"Once they're mined, they're gone - [so the companies] want to use them over and over again.

"For any consumer, you're not going to get much out of it... but if the phone companies or recyclers get lots of these in... they can extract that metal and reuse it for another phone down the line."

She noted the materials are also used for other technology, so there's a 'huge demand' for them that isn't going away any time soon.

She pointed out that charities such as Jack & Jill also take in old phones, showing the value of devices that might otherwise simply gather dust.

Main image: File photo. Picture by: Lisa Ducret/DPA/PA Images

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