Over 100 million old phones, worth £14.1 billion, lying around UK homes


Over 100 million old mobile phone devices – worth an estimated £14.1bn – are lying unused in the nation’s homes, while the same amount have been thrown in the bin, according to new findings from mobile phone service provider giffgaff.

According to the report, the average UK adult has at least two old mobile devices lying unused in the home, and has thrown a further two in the bin. With the average giffgaff trade-in value at £133, this equates to £532 worth of unused or discarded handsets per household. 

Men were found to hold on to or throw away more old phones, with the average UK male having three unused handsets at home and throwing away a further two. While women have thrown away two old handsets on average, and have a further two lying unused at home.

Shockingly, only just over half (57%) of old phones that have been thrown away were broken or damaged. While a third (36%) of UK adults have never traded in or recycled an old phone for cash, and one in ten (11%) didn’t realise that throwing away old mobile phones was bad for the environment.

When it comes to factors most likely to encourage people to buy or sell an old phone, money is unsurprisingly the main motivating factor, with almost half (48%) claiming they would be most likely to do it to save or make money.

However, knowing that recycling a phone is a more sustainable choice that helps cut down on landfill (28%), or that a recycled phone would be donated to help a good cause (31%), were cited as factors most likely to encourage others to buy or sell an old phone.

With this in mind, and with its research revealing that one in ten (10%) UK adults claim to have donated less to on-street fundraisers, charity representatives and homeless people as a result of the UK becoming a ‘cashless society’, giffgaff has partnered with The Big Issue to provide 250 refurbished phones to its vendors, enabling them to take cashless payments when selling the magazine. 

Says Ash Schofield, CEO of giffgaff:

“Our research shows that people are sitting on a significant amount of cash, at a time when finances are being hit hard. I would urge everyone to do what they can to get the maximum lifetime out of their phone. It’s good for your pocket and importantly the environment. And when you’re done with your phone, recycling it and putting it back into the ecosystem is great for helping people, like Big Issue vendors.”

For more information visit giffgaffrecycle.com.


Chris Price
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