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Sell your phone: Phones left lying in drawers worth a staggering £3.4 billion

Vicky Parry 11th Jul 2022 No Comments

Reading Time: 4 minutes

If you want to sell your phone to get some extra cash then go for it. New research commissioned by giffgaff reveals that the UK is failing to cash in on an estimated £3.4 billion worth of old and recyclable mobile phones. As household budgets become increasingly stretched with cost of living increases across the board, this represents a financial win for the nation’s pockets, and for the environment too.   

  • New research from mobile network giffgaff finds 45% of the UK population has a backup mobile phone they rarely use  
  • Owners could get an average of over £100 for each phone they recycle – but the clock is ticking – with handsets potentially halving in value in just one year  
  • Recycling phones also reduces the UK’s e-waste (growing at nearly 1.5 million tonnes a year1) – benefiting not only the nation’s pockets, but the planet too 

Today’s research suggests that almost half (45%) of the UK – nearly 30 million people – keep old and working mobile phones, despite using a brand new model day-to-day. Over two thirds (67%) haven’t used their old handset in the past year and 1 in 5 (19%) say they’ve used their previous device just once. So we are urging our readers at MoneyMagpie to check those drawers. 

Whilst the reasons for holding onto old devices are varied – ranging from people wanting an emergency backup device (32%) to fears over losing personal data (22%) and even some citing emotional attachment (12%) – individuals could be sitting on some unclaimed cash as the average giffgaff trade-in value of a recyclable used handset is £111.4 With over 13 million of us hoarding our old mobiles for more than 12 months, people may be shocked to know that the price they could’ve received for the unused handset may have halved5 in that time. This means that millions across the country could be missing out on their share of an estimated £3.4 billion. 

The Environmental and cost Factor

  Alongside the financial hit, not recycling an old mobile phone will contribute to the growing problem of e-waste. The World Economic Forum estimates that just 20% of global e-waste is recycled, while the other 80% ends up in landfill or incinerated. 

As the UK continues to see the impact of the rising cost of living, further research by the network has highlighted a cost-conscious and eco-minded consumer. 

Over half (51%) plan to budget more carefully and over a quarter (27%) will switch contracts to find the best deals. A third (33%) will make fewer car journeys and another third (35%) will walk or cycle more often.  

This shift in behaviour suggests that the UK’s rising cost of living is also driving a move to a more circular economy. giffgaff’s survey shows that people are increasingly likely to repair and use products for longer (44%), take advantage of trade-in offers (34%), buy second hand (32%), and buy refurbished tech products (29%). 

Mobile Cost Worry

 Mobile phone costs are a big worry too, with two thirds (66%) concerned about their bills. This is driving changes in attitudes, with people more likely to make the most of the tech they have, instead of opting for the latest models. Over one in five of us (22%) will forgo a mobile phone upgrade and move to a cheaper SIM-only plan. 

Earlier this year, giffgaff research found the nation could be sitting on £3.4 billion* worth of old and recyclable mobile phones – missing out on a financial win for the nation’s pockets, and the environment. 

 What can be done? 

Consumers can also take easy steps to reduce the environmental impact of using their phones, including: 

  • Switching back to SMS and voice calls, instead of video and group chats. This benefits the environment and uses far less energy  
  • Opting for environmentally-friendly search engines, which offset the carbon footprint of searches  
  • Lowering the quality of streams and reducing screen brightness helps to reduce the amount of energy used  

To help ease the burden of rising costs, giffgaff is fixing all UK tariffs for the rest of 2022. People can also save up to £150 by opting for a refurbished device**, which help to reduce CO2 emissions of the production of that smartphone by 86%*** – according to research by Back Market. 

The research also found the nation is focusing on experiences and community rather than material goods this year, with family, personal health, and happiness topping the list of what’s most important to us. 

 Call to Action

ash Schofield

giffgaff CEO, Ash Schofield, said: “The increased costs that have come into play will impact us all. While our research highlights the concerns that many people are feeling, it also shows that the rising cost of living is making us more aware of what’s most important to us all and what joys in life are really non-negotiable. We hope that our UK tariff freeze brings certainty to our members so that they can continue to enjoy the things that make them happy.” 

giffgaff’s ongoing Urgent Call to the nation aims to tackle the issue by helping people to either trade-in, recycle or gift their old handsets. Behaviours are already changing, with giffgaff seeing double digit year-on-year growth in refurbished phone sales in the past two years. 

Ash Schofield, CEO at giffgaff, said: “Our latest research highlights that there’s a significant opportunity for people with an old mobile phone to make a tangible, sustainable impact, and gain some extra cash. And with the cost of living rising across the board, now is a great time to get something back by trading in your old phone. Good for your wallet, and for the planet too.”  

Sell your phone

Anyone can sell your phone with giffgaff. To find out how much an old device could be worth, head to the giffgaff website here

MoneyMagpie take a look at other ways to make money with a mobile phone here. 

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Jasmine Birtles

Your money-making expert. Financial journalist, TV and radio personality.

Jasmine Birtles

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