How to be a bright spark and earn some extra cash

Recycling old phones and electricals can be lucrative, says Paul Lewis

Published: December 10, 2020 at 1:28 pm

There is cash lurking in your drawers and cupboards that could amount to £620. That is the extraordinary figure from the Recycle Your Electricals campaign, based on surveys and research on the quantity of old unused devices in most homes. I am one of several people supporting this not-for-profit campaign to end the scandal of 300,000 tonnes of electrical waste being dumped in landfill. There are 527 million unwanted electricals scattered around our homes. And after Christmas, there will be more!


An old smartphone – most people seem to have at least one – could fetch an average £110. Ditto a tablet. A bit more for a games console. And £165 for a laptop.
Step one is wiping your data. Back it up first, then do a factory reset and, for a laptop, scrub the hard drive: you need to destroy your data, not just delete it. Remove all cards and sims.

Check what others are asking for a similar device on eBay or Gumtree. Take some pictures, describe it accurately, fix your price. I was told of one man who sold
a completely dead, non-working iPad – accurately described – for £80! Cash for Christmas – and for Covid! It is tax-free and will not affect your benefits. Be
cautious, though, about websites that “value” your device and ask you to send it in an envelope on the promise of cash.

Alternatively, can you give it to charity? Or a local school? Or a relative or friend who needs it? Perhaps someone who is isolated who would be thrilled to see their loved ones in a video chat on a smartphone? Hairdryers, electric razors, toothbrushes, blenders, irons and power tools can all find a new home.

Things you cannot sell or donate should be recycled. There is gold in a mobile phone; copper in an unused cable; steel, aluminium and plastic in just about everything electrical. Put your postcode into the website to list all your local recyclers. From January electrical retailers will have to take back some old electricals.
For more information, see

Paul Lewis presents Money Box on Radio 4


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