back to article Five billion phones are dead in drawers – carriers want to mine them

The GSM Association (GSMA) and a dozen carriers have announced a plan to make a modest dent in the number of mobile phones that languish, unused, unloved, and unrecycled. The consortium proclaimed on Tuesday that five billion mobile phones are "currently sitting unused and unloved in desk drawers around the globe" and asserted …

  1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    If they were serious about recoving all those resources, the solution is obvious : offer money for the unused phones.

    But yeah, that costs money.

    1. Little Mouse

      Or, release updates for the bloody things so they don't have to remain "unused & unloved" in the first place.

      That would make more than a "modest dent" in the totally-avoidable-waste-mountain-of-their-own-making.

      1. 43300 Silver badge

        Yes, quite - we've got a pile of Android 9 phones at work awaiting disposal - most of which still work fine and were more than adequate for the users' basic phone requirements (calls and email mostly), but because these models cannot be upgraded past Android 9 they had to be replaced.

        1. DJV Silver badge

          Hey, my current, still-in-use phone resembles that remark!

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Phenomenal waste

          Tell me about it... we're putting a new client (Healthcare) through their CyberEssentials Plus and the criteria currently required means the replacement of approximately 119 Samsung Galaxy phones because they're 'no longer compliant' and won't take the sufficient Android OS version, yet they're all still perfectly functional.... unbelievable.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Phenomenal waste

            "CyberEssentials Plus"

            Our organisation, while simultaneously going through >100 redundancies, is replacing hundreds (maybe thousands) of thin clients, desktops, laptops, and a few servers, that are still more than capable of anything we need, merely because the last available BIOS is older than required (2 years?).

            Vendors probably barely believe their good fortune that we're stupid enough to sign up to such schemes.

        3. heyrick Silver badge

          Mine's running Android 8... Still works, writing this on it. It is dumb to have to throw a phone because it's been forgotten about.

          1. CommonBloke

            Not forgotten

            Just purposefully abandoned to force the purchase for the shiny new thing, even if it's a sidegrade most of the time

      2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        The two are not exclusive: updates should be available for longer but once the phone, for whatever reason, has come to the end of its life, it would make sense to have it recycled by the industry.

        There are now a few companies that are specialised in reclaiming minerals but better integration in the production chain is defnitely possible.

    2. pluraquanta

      Yes, they still base take-back pricing on the resell value of the phone, so a phone from 7 years ago with virtually identical value in materials as a 2 year old phone goes for pennies.

    3. darkrookie28

      Yes exactly.

      How much am I getting and is the amount worth the hassle.

      If its not more than $50, I am just going to toss it.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        You won't drop a phone off for recycling for less than $50?

        How much do you demand for recycling a glass beer bottle?

        Guessing you don't bother dropping off batteries in the appropriate bin? Paper and cardboard? Appropriate plastics?

        Do you bother thinking about recycling anything at all?

        1. colincolincolin

          as if those are at all equivalent

          glass beer bottle: goes in the blue bin which gets picked up 20 ft from my home.

          batteries: goes in the e-waste disposal bin inside the engineering building at the local university’s campus, a 10 minute walk from the gardens i visit twice a year, those gardens a 30 minute busride from my home.

          no, of course i don’t recycle my batteries. it’s super unusual that i even know *where* i could recycle them without googling for an hour.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: as if those are at all equivalent

            "of course i don’t recycle my batteries. it’s super unusual that i even know *where* i could recycle them without googling for an hour."

            The bin at the entrance to your local Sainsburys, Morrisons or Asda?

            1. PRR Bronze badge

              Re: as if those are at all equivalent

              >> ...recycle my batteries. it’s super unusual that i even know *where* i could recycle them...."

              > The bin at the entrance to your local Sainsburys, Morrisons or Asda?

              In the USA: Home Depot has a bin at the entrance for rechargeable batteries.

              Next to the bin for CFLs.

              Lowes too. Not(?) Canadian Tire or Walmart.

              In the USA: not typically "supermarkets". I'll ask my brother why.

              FWIW: my tiny town has a website and it has a recycle info page.

            2. HelpfulJohn

              Re: as if those are at all equivalent

              Yes, well, I've known about those for years.

              I still have a small pile of dead cells on the table next to the front door.

              Someday, I *will* remember to take them with me. :)

              Maybe.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        You sound like the kind of c*nt who tosses all his recyclables in the rubbish.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          ...or the inappropriately named recycling bin where the contents just get shipped off to become Indonesian landfill.

    4. rajivdx

      Or charge a tax on new phones, say 10% of the cost of the new phone if you don't turn in an old phone in exchange. So that $1000 iPhone could end up costing $1100 if you don't trade in your old phone.

      On top of that you could still offer them money for the trade in (if the trade-in is worth something). So if you trade in a relatively new iPhone 12 for an iPhone 14, you get $100 off the iPhone 14 plus say $200 for the trade in - that should be incentive enough.

      1. YetAnotherXyzzy

        Where I live, that would be interpreted by a lot of people as a 10% discount if you steal whatever phone you can and present it at the time of purchase.

        Not downvoting you though, because I see your point.

    5. Lee D Silver badge

      Almost every recycling scheme ever falls foul of this.

      I'm literally PAYING a council to pay a company to take away my paper (very easily recycled) to then sell on.

      If it was at all worthwhile, they'd be paying me for the source material - like how we used to "return a deposit" on a glass bottle.

      Just about the only thing that I can actually get money for are certain metals in significant amounts. Not the rare-earths, no. The steel, iron, aluminium, etc. Even then, without bulk, it's not even worth someone paying a penny for them if they have to come collect, it's not worth the fuel to do so.

      And any recycling scheme involves some amount of at least one of: transport, handling, human interaction, washing, chemical cleans, heating the material (often to melting point), reforming, quality-loss, transport (again!).

      Those things all cost money and most of the time the "value" of the "free" recycled material at the end doesn't even cover the cost of the process, let alone profit, let alone paying for the raw material.

      Phones are even worse - trying to discombobble them to the point you can isolate all the dangerous parts and chemicals, and recover metals etc. to a purity you can re-use and re-sell them? It's not worth the fuel it would cost to transport the phone to the depot.

      These kinds of schemes are almost entirely subsidised - they aren't commercially viable. And, in a way, that's fine. We have to pay more to deal with our waste correctly, I understand that.

      But claiming that you're going to actually expend less energy, pollution, etc. overall by recycling the device rather than making another is basically equated with "you should be able to profit from recycling the device, then". And that's basically never true.

  2. Ragarath

    So, how much...

    ...are they paying me for my obviously valuable stock of those resources?

    Or, as I suspect. Are they going to relieve me of them out of the kindness of their hearts, and "for the planet."

    How about I hold onto them until they pay back some of the extortionate,inflated price I paid for them. They are doing me no harm sat there.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So, how much...

      people are stupid and while most will laugh at the GREEN ads and GREEN boxes and GREEN 'free to return' jiffy bags, there's enough idiots with bricked bricks cluttering their drawers to fall for the GREEN and return their bricks - for free. Just a matter of figuring out how to BEST 'sell' them this idea of GREEN and make the recovery as cheap and effective as possible, and then, voila, new GREEN revenue stream. Every little GREEN helps!

      1. IGotOut Silver badge

        Re: So, how much...

        So AC your solution is?

        Yeah, thought so.

      2. Ragarath

        Re: So, how much...

        So, first. Please make your posts make sense. Littering them with capitalised letters in your green crusade do nothing for you. Post as a person. You seem to realise this is a rant so have posted appropriately.

        Why is me choosing to keep things I have paid for a problem? They are not littering, I am not sending them to landfill. Why is me expecting the companies, that sell these things for excessive profits, to offer something in return for what essentially, is just them saving money instead of having to dig it out of the ground. If they were serious about "green" they would never have made the things unrepairable. These companies are only about profit and want the rare elements from these things cheaper than they can dig them out of the ground so they can continue to rake in the excessive profits.

        My "green" is my own businesses and I am proud of it since I've been doing it since I was a whipper snapper. I did not need to wait for this "woke" mentality to do what I knew was right, so take your crusade elsewhere.

        1. Terry 6 Silver badge

          Re: So, how much...

          They are not littering, I am not sending them to landfill

          Ideally, getting the stuff back into the manufacturing process as soon as possible reduces the amount dug out of the ground, transported to a major population centre and processed from new.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: So, how much...

          I'm keeping my old phones in the hope that someone will create a decent FOSS phone OS I can load onto them to have a safe usable device with a few years life left in it. Keep buying new ones because the manufacturer no longer supports updates is just slightly mental.

    2. Persona Silver badge

      Re: So, how much...

      It is often the case with distributed valuable resources the cost of collecting and processing plus the cost of disposing of the useless bits can be higher than the value recovered. To make money out of it you want someone else to collect them into a huge pile you can mine.

    3. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

      Re: So, how much...

      I've just moved house, and I discovered how much obsolete tech I was keeping hold of. If someone offered me a few quid per device I'd snap their hand off, but while all they are doing is offering a few quid off an upgrade to a new device I don't want,... they can languish in the box in the new attic. Or I'll donate them for someone to make art with, or for period props for telly etc.

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: So, how much...

        Here, we're supposed to take our electronic junk to the local tip. Problem is, my nearest is 7 km and I've only got a bike… most of it isn't worth much (cables, adapters, drives, etc.) but even a symbolic price per kilo would encourage more recycling. In theory, any profits made recycling are used to reduce our bills but this is probably a classic principal-agent problem.

        1. heyrick Silver badge

          Re: So, how much...

          Found an old Econet card in a box. Looked on eBay as a joke. Nearly died. How much?!?

          Not selling, can't be doing with the hassle. Left in a box I can easily forget about it for another twenty years.

          1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

            Re: So, how much...

            >Found an old Econet card in a box.

            El'reg readers represent the country's strategic junk cable reserve.

            When the call goes forth for a ZipDrive parallel port cable - our day will come

        2. Jellied Eel Silver badge

          Re: So, how much...

          Here, we're supposed to take our electronic junk to the local tip. Problem is, my nearest is 7 km and I've only got a bike

          And we wonder why we have a fly tipping problem. Local council has a waste collection service for 'bulky' waste, but has a per-item charge. No idea if a box of random cables and bits counts as 1 item, or I'd get a bill for each element.

          If this stuff has value though, perhaps the recycling industry should sponsor or arrange E-waste collection services. Maybe make it so every 3 months, scrap electronics will be collected in your postcode. That might increase the volume to make recycling economical, but would still have potential issues like safely dealing with batteries. We're supposed to take lithium batteries to collection points, but I bet many just get tossed into general waste.

          1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

            Re: So, how much...

            Bulky waste collection here is fortunately free but some councils limit the number of appointments per year.

        3. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

          Re: Local recycling centres

          Those who use them and that includes me, are basically doing the councils job for them. Our County Council in their infinite wisdom have removed the facility to recycle glass bottles from the centres BUT still collect glass from the kerbside. I can't wait for that kerbside collection to be a 'paid for service' on top of our council tax like garden waste. It is coming. For the Goons in Westminster to demand £200M/year savings from the council, is lunacy. The roads are in a pitiful state. Patches on patches on patches.

          We used to be able to take old phones to the local hospital who would get a few quid for them. COVID saw the end of that and there is no sign of anything like that coming back.

          I'm coming around to thinking that if the council could charge us for the air that we breathe, they would.

          Councils are to some extent hamstruck by the government lunatics but the lack of common sense and joined up thinking in local government is astounding.

          We are doomed I tell ye, doomed.

  3. that one in the corner Silver badge

    Your next car could be an iPhone

    First there was Christine, now we bring you - Siri!

    You'll know her by the music she plays as she drives you to your doom.

    1. The Dogs Meevonks Silver badge

      Re: Your next car could be an iPhone

      Don't forget that she'll overcharge you for the pleasure of driving you to your doom in an original and totally not stolen manner.

      1. DJV Silver badge

        Re: driving you to your doom in an original and totally not stolen manner

        ...especially if the software decides you are steering it wrong.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Data

    I have a couple of old mobiles around. I'm not letting anyone have them until I know all of my data has been permanently removed. Any Reg readers know the best way to do that to around the same security level as a lump hammer and cold chisel to a hard drive?

    1. Little Mouse

      Re: Data

      I think you've answered your own question there.

      It's the only way to be sure.

      1. heyrick Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: Data

        Well, if they're interested in recycling the raw materials they won't be interested in whether or not it works.

        I [heart symbol] my pickaxe.

    2. Andy Non Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Data

      Toss them into an active volcano or nuke them from orbit... the only sure way.

      1. that one in the corner Silver badge

        Re: Data

        Thermite is fun as well - and assuming you know how to take precautions for thermite, setting off the battery isn't going to be much of a worry.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Data

      Since this is all solid-state storage (no spinning rust) a few seconds in the microwave will render the data kaput. (But no more than a few. 3 seconds is plenty to total a CD/DVD via an impressive lightning show. So not much more than this to avoid a conflagration.)

      If they're after the valuable metals etc within the devices then they'll be getting melted down anyway.

      1. AMBxx Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Re: Data

        How many seconds for the battery to ignite?

      2. Munchausen's proxy
        Pint

        Re: Data

        " (But no more than a few. 3 seconds is plenty to total a CD/DVD via an impressive lightning show. So not much more than this to avoid a conflagration.)"

        So, you're saying that shalt thou count to three. No more. No less. Three shalt be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be three?

        I suppose five is right out.

    4. sbegrupt

      Re: Data

      Well, if you know which chips store the data, you can just desolder them with a hot air gun first and return a phone will all chips except for the flash storage chips. An example guide: https://www.ifixit.com/Guide/Unlock+NAND+Data+for+NAND+Repair+-+Fix+iPhone+X+Stuck+in+Recovery+Mode/145293

    5. Marty McFly Silver badge
      Stop

      Re: Data

      Damn this security mindset, inherent to my career! That was my first thought too. Today's recycled phone is tomorrow's data breach.

    6. that one in the corner Silver badge

      Re: Data

      > I'm not letting anyone have them until I know all of my data has been permanently removed.

      You aren't going to have a choice, eventually someone will get them off you (even if that is literally prising them from your cold, dead, hands - or just during the house clearance).

      Perhaps you need a better approach than hoping some random commentard will come up with a sensible suggestion? And act upon it whilst you still have the faculties to do so.

  5. JRS

    It's not just phones

    What about old usb memory sticks, sd cards etc with insufficient capacities / performance.

    I think my pile of them almost matches old mobiles.

    And then there's old 3.5inch (and 2.5) hard drives. They do exceed mobiles in terms of weight.

    I don't need paying for it if I know it's properly & responsibly recycled (including turning all the 1s into 0s to go into new devices).

    1. 43300 Silver badge

      Re: It's not just phones

      Data destruction again is important here. USB sticks can normally be prised open and the flash chips cut up with pliers. Same works for mobiles although a bit more effort (making sure to also cut up old micro SD / SIM cards too).

      Hard drives have got much simpler - M2 SSDs can easily be destroyed using the pliers method above. Much easier than spinning-rust hard drives (I used to use a sledgehammer on those, but in recent years have normally arranged a visit from a shredder van and watched it chew them up).

      1. that one in the corner Silver badge

        Re: It's not just phones

        > USB sticks can normally be prised open and the flash chips cut up with pliers

        Not going to be much left to mine for precious resources after you've done all that.

    2. CommonBloke

      Re: It's not just phones

      You tell me. I have a significant number of 8-32gb microSD cards that I rarely use nowadays, plus a handful of USB drives. They're in good condition and good to use, but I don't have a use case for all of them anymore. Maybe come up with some sort of local NAS? Though i'd need something with 10+ USB ports

  6. ThatOne Silver badge
    Unhappy

    > because transferring a device to a recycler is no guarantee it will be recycled

    Indeed. Unfortunately most of the collected "to be recycled" stuff ends up in (often illegal) landfill, once the recycling company has collected whatever subsidies there were to have.

    There is no money in really recycling (as in "preventing things from ending in landfill"), because it is extremely expensive to do properly and cleanly, while the market value (and quantity!) of the resulting recycled materials is low. Collecting all those phones all over the world, taking them apart and extracting all those metals will cost way too much to be profitable, which is why everybody agrees on not doing anything.

    1. IGotOut Silver badge

      Odd because my last work actually had a recycling unit for computers, printers, monitors etc.

      If you think they have hundreds of people sitting there taking them carefully apart you are misguided.

      You take pc, remove battery, love whole lot in huge bit of machinery and few minutes later you have several piles of shredded metals, plastics and glass.

      1. ThatOne Silver badge
        Unhappy

        > If you think

        I don't think anything, it's just I've seen trucks and trucks of supposedly "recycled" equipment being dumped in some remote place in the boonies. Now of course I might have chanced upon the one and only cheater in the whole world, but I actually don't feel that special.

        I agree some stuff gets recycled, but I'm afraid it's just the easier and more profitable parts. How much of those piles of shredded metals, plastics and glass get really recycled (in reality, not in theory!), and how much gets trashed because it would be too expensive to separate and there is no profit in selling that specific recycled material?

        I sincerely do hope you're right and I'm wrong, but I'm afraid we're (still) far from avoiding potentially useful resources becoming creeping pollution.

  7. John Robson Silver badge

    "There's also enough cobalt to build batteries for ten million electric vehicles."

    Why do people keep focussing on an element that isn't actually required for building batteries?

    There's enough plutonium to build 15 car batteries as well - which is the same amount as would be required to build 30 billion.

    1. IGotOut Silver badge

      Re: "There's also enough cobalt to build batteries for ten million electric vehicles."

      Less than 5 seconds searching.

      https://www.drivingelectric.com/lithium-and-cobalt-for-electric-car-batteries

      1. John Robson Silver badge

        Re: "There's also enough cobalt to build batteries for ten million electric vehicles."

        Yes - there are some batteries which use cobalt... but also those which don't.

        LiFePo, which is becoming the go to choice for many applications, including EVs, doesn't use it at all.

  8. Boo Radley

    Lost Phones

    I've got upwards of 25 phones in a drawer, phones that customers left in our taxis and for which we were unable to determine ownership. How does one lose their device and not make at least a minimal effort to find it? If my device isn't where I always keep it when not in use - my pocket - then I'm going to be making a few calls to see if anyone has located it. Unfortunately none of these phones are particularly nice models or else I'd find ways to repurpose them. Maybe the effort of figuring out where one has left the device is less than the cost to simply replace it.

    1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

      Re: Lost Phones

      I once lost the phone in the back of a cab in Rotterdam (Since all the taxis were Mercs with comfy seats and my personal phone fell out).

      Thankfully had work mobile and although couldn't get hold of the company it was sent back to me with a video from the cabbie who returned it (Thank you again for the very odd video!).

    2. Terry 6 Silver badge

      Re: Lost Phones

      Hmm. Insurance/wanted a new phone anyway/place of work pays for a replacement. Or any two from three.

  9. Tom 7

    Mine my drawers?

    Are you insane?

    1. that one in the corner Silver badge

      Re: Mine my drawers?

      Well, they've mined out the loincloths, bloomers and clouts...

      1. that one in the corner Silver badge

        Re: Mine my drawers?

        They used strip-mining...

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dead in a draw?

    Not sure about dead

    A lot are old Nokias, last time I got one out and pressed the the power button it still had 45% charge after a decade and half!

  11. MJI Silver badge

    Forced to change

    I liked my old N8, but no 4G and 3G is going.

    Work phones since then Android and they just tend to break

  12. Kit_

    School Scheme

    The best way to get mobiles back without all the hassle of people posting individual phones is to organise a scheme with schools. Offer then £XX per phone for the school, then every school in the country will ask their students to collect phones in (and parents will ask around in the office etc.). Easy way to gather large numbers of phones, plus the schools get to have some nice new tech kit thanks to the fundraising.

  13. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

    Mandate by law mobes have to last for five years

    Five years of security patches. Five years of app support. Minimum.

    If you can't guarantee the patches end to end (OEM drivers, OS support, etc) you don't get to release a phone

    If the newest release of your app doesn't work on a given standard from release date minus five years, you don't get to release it.

    You wouldn't put up with this on a computer, but because of mobile contracts, fashion, and poor build quality/support, for some reason we put up with it with mobiles.

    Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to finish moving data off my expensive boutique Fxtec Pro 1 - where the charging port is now all but dead after three years usage and can't realistically be repaired. It's being transplanted into my almost three year old Unihertz Titan where security patches were dropped, the wireless is awful, and the manufacturer continues to not abide by the GPL. Still, there's finally a community LineageOS build for it I've managed to shoehorn on so I'll no doubt use it for a few weeks before getting fed up with the call quality and wireless and buy yet another phone to contribute further to land fill.

    Any decent phones out there? Not Apple. *Five* years security patches support. Call quality you can hear. Usable camera. Wireless charging that doesn't destroy the battery so the USB port isn't continually in use. Source code released so there's a possibility of community LineageOS in thte future. Don't care how trendy it is, I want something reliable that will work for years.

    1. Marty McFly Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: Mandate by law mobes have to last for five years

      ..."you don't get to release a phone"

      Says who? The government? It is none of their damn business to regulate such things - even though they often try to.

      How about consumers stop buying phones from companies that don't guarantee those minimums? If this is so important to all the silly people then they will demand it and companies will provide it.

      Face the facts. The average consumer isn't interested. They want the latest iThingy to show as a status symbol. Rocking a 5 year old iThing just isn't cool.

      1. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

        Re: Mandate by law mobes have to last for five years

        Yes : the government. No-one else is going to do it.

        It's entirely possible, although it would hit some companies income. Consumers aren't going to make even the most trivial change that could preserve rare earth metals and marginally slow the ongoing climate crisis.

        Consumers would get over it. It'll still make phone calls and run apps. People might even be grateful their phones are reliable.

  14. Marty McFly Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    They ain't dead yet!

    My iPhones get a 2nd life after retirement from primary phone status. One is in a waterproof case for AirPlay streaming from the hot tub. Another has Life 360 on it (horrible privacy abusing app) so I can keep track of other family members who do share that data - but this phone never leaves my desk so I am not tracked. Another is used in the RV to stream music when off-grid. Etc.

    I think I can find an iPhone 4 around somewhere which has finally reached end-of-usefulness.

    I will note the very old iPhones are still in working order. The one Galaxy S10e phone circa 2020 bloated out its battery after 18 months...get-what-you-pay-for-garbage.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: They ain't dead yet!

      "One is in a waterproof case for AirPlay streaming from the hot tub"

      Ewwww.

      But streaming *to* the hot tub...

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Old?

    My iPhone 7 is in daily use.

  16. Jim Whitaker
    Flame

    Batteries

    I'm surprised that so little of the comments are about battery replacement. I have two redundant phones, one of which would still be in use if it was possible to simply replace the battery. Android OS still new enough to not be a security concern, works OK on 4G. The phone I had about 12 years ago had an easily replaceable battery and would still be in use if the technology had not moved on. Hence I support the EU drive to force all similar small electronic devices to have easily replaceable batteries. (Ditto common USB connections.)

  17. Tim 49

    I didn't realise how hard it is to destroy HDs until I tried. "Bang a 6-inch nail through it", they said. Well dear reader, none of my nails were large enough, so I cadged one off a neighbour, and set to work with my DIY-sied hammer and the nail. All I managed to do was make a lot of noise, bend the nail and put a tiny dent in the steel case.

    Best I could achieve was to prise off the circuit board, and hit the drives as hard as I could in the hope of smashing the platters or heads. Couldn't even get them to rattle.

    1. TotallyInfo

      "I didn't realise how hard it is to destroy HDs until I tried. "Bang a 6-inch nail through it", they said. Well dear reader, none of my nails were large enough, so I cadged one off a neighbour, and set to work with my DIY-sied hammer and the nail. All I managed to do was make a lot of noise, bend the nail and put a tiny dent in the steel case.

      Best I could achieve was to prise off the circuit board, and hit the drives as hard as I could in the hope of smashing the platters or heads. Couldn't even get them to rattle."

      They generally come apart easily enough. Get the platters out and put nice scratches across them. Or maybe use the magnets in the disk and rub them across the platter surfaces a few times.

      Of course, the sensible fast way is to drill through them with a power-drill.

  18. brimstone

    "Boost recovery of mobiles and prevent devices going to landfill or incineration"...but what about the 'burners'?

  19. vcragain

    Well I have had my current phone for about 5 years now & no intention of 'upgrading' to anything else any time soon, but I do have 2 old phones sitting in my desk, as you rightly point out, me & millions of other people ! I spent a few minutes wondering what to do with the ld one at the time I bought the new one, then did the obvious - stuck it in my desk drawer ! I guess I would be mainly worried about any information remaining on them, but happy to get rid of minew if there is a place to do that.

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