Where is the best place for used mobile phones?

It’s not worth keeping hazardous waste and valuable recyclable components at home

Although there has been a visible improvement, more than half of Hungarians still store their old, unused mobile phones at home, according to the latest representative national survey by Yettel. The millions of mobile handsets lying around in drawers contain lots of valuable materials that could be reused, while their batteries can become a fire hazard over the years. A used mobile phone can now be worth up to HUF 30,000 at Yettel.

Based on Yettel’s latest nationwide representative survey[1], one in five Hungarians use their mobile phones for more than 4 years, most of them (half of all respondents) for 3-4 years, and one in four for only 1-2 years. When not in use, the handset most often ends up in a drawer at home – more than half of respondents (55%) keep their old mobile phones, although this is an improvement over the results of a previous survey (63%). Hungarians have about ten million mobile subscriptions[2], so there could be millions of unused mobile handsets in the depths of drawers.

Nearly half (47%) of those keeping their old mobile phones have one, a third (32%) have two and a fifth (21%) have three or more handsets at home. The increased availability of take-back facilities and public awareness may play an important role in the significant improvement compared to 2022, when nearly half (46%) of respondents had three or more used mobile phones at home[3] – some of which were more than 10-15 years old. The survey shows that, fewer people are throwing away their old phones in the trash: only 7% of respondents did so last year, compared to 10% in 2022.

Keep it or throw it away? There is a better solution!

Electronic waste, including mobile phones, contains substances that are not harmful when used as intended, but can be pose a threat to the environment if not stored properly or if they end up in municipal waste. An ageing battery, for example, can start to leak, releasing hazardous substances into the environment or even causing a fire.

The benefits of recycling handsets instead of throwing them away go beyond preventing the hazardous materials from polluting our planet. Europe produces more than two billion tonnes of waste each year, which is a significant environmental burden. The EU is trying to move away from a linear approach based on “buy, use and throw away” to a circular economy. An important element of this is that products (or their reusable parts) are recycled at the end of their lifecycle, including mobile phones returned to the operator. This reduces waste; conserves valuable and increasingly scarce raw materials; and creates economic value through the reuse of raw materials and finished products.

As part of Yettel’s current green promotion, old, returned handsets are eligible for a significant discount. If you return your used or non-functioning mobile phone to any Yettel shop by 29 May, you will receive a discount of up to HUF 30,000 on any Samsung mobile phone purchased with a postpaid public consumer voice tariff (except Yettel Start) and a two-year contract. The promotion also includes a model that can be purchased with a total discount of HUF 70,000 on the HUF 0 Yettel Prime Plus tariff, when you trade in an old phone. The mobile phone has to meet only one criterion: it has to be in one piece, but it doesn’t have to be functional.  

The mobile operator wants to offer its existing and new customers a greener and cheaper alternative to buying a new mobile phone. Almost all the new handsets available in the promotion are 5G-enabled, offering not only the latest technology with all its benefits, but also a lower power consumption per unit of data compared to previous technologies.

More information: https://www.yettel.hu/vidd-az-ujat

[1] A national survey commissioned by Yettel and conducted on the Ipsos online panel, representative of gender, age, type of settlement and region, completed by 840 respondents between 30 June 2023 and 6 July 2023.
[2] Number of mobile subscriptions per one thousand inhabitants: 1041 KSH, 2022 (https://www.ksh.hu/stadat_files/ikt/hu/ikt0027.html)
[3] A national survey commissioned by Yettel and conducted on the Ipsos online panel, representative of gender, age, type of settlement and region, completed by 840 respondents between 1 June 2022 and 6 July 2023.