What is the use of old equipment

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Around 30 million smartphones and cell phones were sold in Germany in 2015. On average, a cell phone is only used for 18 months. Then it is disposed of or lies around forgotten. Estimates say that around 106 million old cell phones "sleep" in households in Germany, reports the North Rhine-Westphalia consumer advice center.

Here the tip applies: If the cell phone is still working, it should be used for a longer period of time. A cell phone that is no longer used should be sold or given away immediately.

Since the market for buying portals is not transparent, the consumer advice center advises you to resell yourself. As a rule, you also get more money if you place a classified ad yourself.

Bring to cell phone collections

Another variant is to give the device to a cell phone collection of a non-profit organization. The Naturschutzbund (NABU) and the German Environmental Aid (DUH), for example, have set up such a collection - partly in cooperation with mobile phone providers. The collected devices then go to a recycling company and are sorted there. The companies often sell functional cell phones abroad as so-called ReUse devices. Consumers should therefore always hand in their old cell phone together with the charger. Defective or very old devices are recycled.

For every cell phone collected, the collection organization receives a lump sum. This is used for various projects. Consumers should find out for what purpose they want to donate their cell phone.

The devices are often sold in poorer countries where people cannot afford new ones. In large parts of Africa there is only mobile communications, but no landline network, so people there are dependent on cell phones.

Deliver to dealers

Since July 2016, large retailers have had to take back used electrical equipment free of charge. In the case of small devices such as cell phones, regardless of whether the consumer buys a new one there.

Online retailers are also included in this regulation. However, if you want to return your old cell phone to an online retailer, you need a return label, as is the case with a return shipment. He has to pack the device and bring it to a parcel acceptance point. Many companies have commissioned service providers with the processing, such as the large parcel services.

Dispose of old devices

If you don't bother to sell, donate or bring your cell phone to a retailer, you can - like all other electronic devices - hand it in at the recycling center.

Old cell phones should never be thrown away with household waste. The devices contain heavy metals in the batteries, for example, but also raw materials that can be recovered through recycling. A mobile phone contains around 250 milligrams of silver, 24 milligrams of gold and nine grams of copper, among other things.

Deletion of user data

Regardless of whether it is a donation, sale or return: the SIM card and memory card must first be removed from the mobile phone. They can still be used in the new mobile phone. If they are no longer used, the SIM card can be cut with scissors. The memory card can be physically erased on the computer: insert the card into a reader and remove the data with a physical erasure program.

Deleting internal cell phone memory is more time-consuming. The Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) recommends encrypting the device first and then resetting it to the factory settings. The BSI provides further information on encryption on its website.

If consumers want to delete particularly sensitive data, they should also overwrite the memory. Then you reset the device again. These steps can be repeated several times.

A current review by Stiftung Warentest showed: Resetting to factory settings, both with Apple and Android smartphones, deletes the private data in the internal memory to such an extent that it is practically impossible to restore.

Some providers of cell phone collections or second-hand sellers promise a secure data deletion before reselling. Since you cannot check this as a consumer, you should always delete the data securely yourself beforehand.

Further information on data security can be found in the brochure "Safe on the Net". It can be ordered or downloaded from the Federal Government's website.