Your old phone is calling - it wants a new life

Originally published at: Your old phone is calling - it wants a new life - Fairphone

Many of us, (around 400 million, by the third quarter of 2017) have a brand new phone that we’re getting to know, and an old phone, our constant companion for the last 1.7 years, who’s about to disappear into the messy drawer we all have. You know what we mean - that drawer where the things we can’t quite get rid of go. Maybe we don’t really trust our new phone yet - we’ll hold onto the old one as a fail-safe. Maybe we haven’t figured out how to get those old photos off the phone - especially that one where you’re dancing with the coat-rack at the office party. Maybe we have an inkling that this piece of hardware doesn’t belong in the trash, but we don’t know what to do with it.

The Earth has a messy drawer problem

All of these reasons mean that the planet’s big messy drawer has around 1.6 billion phones languishing in it. But what if those mild-mannered phones have superhero lives ahead of them? What if they could prevent millions of kilos of CO2 from entering our atmosphere? Or change the life of a small business owner in Ghana? Or even make a brand new phone a little bit fairer? Join the Fairphone recycling program! By recycling and reusing old phones, we can give them new lives in new homes, or recover valuable materials like gold, copper and palladium. We can reduce the environmental impact of manufacturing new phones, AND make the environment inside our messy drawers a bit cleaner, freeing up some much-needed space for 1980s floppy disks, random lengths of string, and loose paper clips.

Compared to the good it can do, the reasons for keeping old phones in the drawer start to pale into insignificance. That backup? Let’s face it, at best you only need your last phone. And even then, maybe only one person in the house needs one (after all, sharing is caring!).

But what about my old data?

Want to ensure your embarrassing party pictures are gone? We’ve put together a step by step guide to securely overwriting your data on your old phone - whether it’s an iPhone or an Android or a Blackberry. And if that’s not enough, don’t worry, we erase data again using Blancco Technology.

Still have data on that old phone you need to migrate? Drop in to our community forum and ask for help or share your tips!

Get your free shipping label now

Our recycling program is currently available in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

If you live in one of those countries, go grab your old phone(s) and fill out this super easy form – we’ll send you a free shipping label to whisk your phone off to its new life.

Reuse and recycling starts with you. Dig out those phones and start recycling! We promise we’ll take good care of your old friend: after all, every phone you recycle is another step towards a brighter, fairer future for all of us.

Do you hear that sound? It’s your old phone calling you to send it on a new adventure. We’ll let you go answer it now.


I actually looked at that guide to wipe data on my dumbphone that I gave to local recycling today :slight_smile:


Are there more details on what is being done with the old phones (functional or not)?

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Hey thanks for that. We are waiting for the report in 2017 and then I will be able to answer! Thanks


Can I recycle a phone which is locked to be used only with one company? (not unlocked)

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Thanks for the quick feedback.
The idea I have in mind is, that maybe local communities could collect these old phones and support people to wipe it before. At that instance we could inform them about the idea behind Fairphone (I think there is sufficient material available already, we should add about the recycling though) and show the devices. It might be a way to further spread the word.
The issue is of course that who wants to recycle his old phone usually already has a new one. So the introduction would be too late.
Therefore, business wise, it would be more effective if the resellers would offer this service.

I presume Fairphone would not mind if e.g. I came back occasionally with a box of phones to recycle?
I will try to discuss this topic in Munich during their next meeting. I’ll post a note in that thread.

Looking forward for that report.


In the Netherlands, is this program more responsible than passing it to Or are they basically equivalent?

Thanks for reminding me to clean out my messy drawer (ha, I wish it was only a drawer) responsibly!


@DietmarP the more you send, the more they’ll be used. If you send them in bigger packages this saves you S&H and saves them time receiving/unpacking.

Your waste is valuable. It can be (partly) reused, but it requires a little bit of effort on your side.

You can of course sell your working e-waste on regular channels which is great.

And you can also send your old smartphone or FP modules to Fairphone which is also great!

For other (e-)waste I can recommend kringloopwinkels (charity/thrift shops I suppose). Locally, we got Noppes here. If you got large products and don’t have a car (we don’t have one and generally don’t need one either), you can even make an appointment so they’ll pick it up. Though you could also rent a car (normal cars are not very good for the environment). Noppes are ANBI, meaning they’re akin to Public Benefit Organisation and non-profit. In this case (and many other cases as well), they employ people with disabilities who thereby function in society.

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Yes! They will try to wipe it and bring it back to factory settings. If that is not possible, then memory will be destroyed and the device will be recycled.


Hi there,

You probably mean which is the collection initiative of weee. The main difference is that WEEE is the local collective arrangement for eweaste in the netherlands and they only collect for recycling and do not refurbish.

I hope this helps!


My FP1 is still doing useful work, and I don’t mean as a doorstop or as a paperweight. I intend to use it as long as I can lay my hands on a new battery (we have three FP1s in our family).
But in a couple of years’ time, I’ll hope to remember.


Great idea! But what about Portugal? I think that it may be worth it extending the programme to this country.

16 posts were merged into an existing topic: Did Fairphone promise to repair/recycle/take back FP1s?

Hey, my newest phone I don’t use anymore was released in 2012. Is that too old? It is otherwise functional, except the battery is dead.

You should check the IMEI number on the link in the blog post whether it’s useful for Fairphone’s recycling program. If it’s not - likely, since my phone from 2013 was too old - then you are given suggestions for local recycling companies. I have sent my phone to one of them.


Do you forward phones onto organisations like the Rainforest Connection ( if they are suitable - a great way to give an old phone a new and productive new life.

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Hello. I tried to send my F1 last week, through “Your old phone is calling…” programme, but it seems an impossible task from Spain. Neither DHL nor Correos (where DHL send me to) wants to get my ‘DHL Retour package’. It seems there’s a coordination problem with your local contractors. Any help?

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Hi Vivian,

Thanks for your message. We will look into it immediately. Do you mind if we are in contact via email?

What was the exact reason DHL gave you? did you download a Free shipping label from our recycling website?

Please write to me to, thanks!


is there similar programs in bali or indonesia? :slight_smile:

Maybe you find some valuable info in this article:

Following the link to the National Environment Agency, I found this page:
Where to Recycle E-Waste
That page has an interactive map integrated, showing E-Waste Collection Points.

Furthermore you will find information on programs like

StarHub’s RENEW (REcycling Nation’s Electronic Waste) Programme

If you want to find specific information for Bali, please do some internet search.
And maybe that App is for you? Though I don’t know to what extent this covers e-waste.

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