Recycling very old phones (3 or 5 years old or even older)

Hi All, I am wondering why there are so few articles about recycling old phones. Not worth to open an own category as this is a very important topic for Fairphone?
But here my question/problem: For different reasons, I have about 15 (very) old phones at home (Smartphones and Handys). And for some, I am really wondering how to recycle them without risking any data leakage. And I really wonder how Teqcycle is ensuring 100% GDPR-compliant data deletion when the phone is more than dead? On the other hand, who might have interest and energy to dig in a very old phone for any very old data? What is a safe and sustainable way to get rid of all my phones? By the way, I am not interested in any cashback or discount.
I would be very grateful to get some background knowledge on this topic. KR Michael

Welcome to the Forum!

A category in the forum? I don’t believe so. Just follow the #recycling tag.

I’d suggest the recycling program of Fairphone! I don’t believe you will have any data leak problem with them.


Great. Now, I saw the “category” for recycling (which is in fact a “tag”) Many thanks. :slight_smile:
For what concerns the recycling program: Yes, you are right, I tried it, but they only accept three phones per package. And how to send very old phones, when you do not find the IMEI number because of damage or being just dead.

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The page tells you that you should enter the IMEI of the newest device in your shipment and that you are able to send up to five. So if you have three phones with an IMEI that is still readable on the label under the battery (where it is typically found in old phones), you will be able to send all of the phones to Fairphone.

And, I don’t think forensically recovering data from a phone that doesn’t boot is worth the money unless it is known that a phone was owned by a particularly high-profile person (so maybe you need to be careful if you are the namesake of a celebrity :smiley: ). Getting metals out of it on the other hand is worthwhile.


I recycled an old phone with Fairphone, and I sent an even older phone along with it.
The Fairphone system didn’t recognize the IMEI of the older phone as eligible, I really needed the IMEI of the other phone, so it might not necessarily work with every given bunch of old phones.

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Hi Michael,

where do you live? In Germany, just take your devices to a Wertstoffhof nearby. They have special bins for electronics waste. And forget about the data. If your phones still work, perform a factory reset. And if they don’t? Nobody cares.

Best wishes,

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For save recycling the data on your phone, read How to erase your phone before you recycle.

Thanks, AnotherElk.
So, in your case, it worked fine. Good to know. As I also have at least a few IMEIs found for mine, it will work for me, too. Recycling with Fairphone is my most trusted way for recycling my phones. So, this long story comes to an end. :slight_smile:
Kind regards, Michael

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