Published: 21 September 2020

In the recent Lifeline IT ‘IT Trends Report’, we revealed that many of us are ‘green’ about the environmental damage caused by the constant ‘upgrading’ of tech products.

Although 59% are concerned about the environmental impact of frequently replacing smartphones and tablets, seven out of 10 admitted they don’t fully understand the recycling process for old hardware devices once they have been discarded. The findings in our report also show that 38% regularly replace their smartphone* with the latest product.

There’s no doubt that this constant ‘upgrading’ to the latest model is damaging to the environment and we need to try and find ways to limit the impact. However, this can be challenging in today’s consumer-driven landscape, where the latest new gadget is often seen as much as a fashion item as it is a tech necessity. Our own research shows that 77% think wearable devices, such as Apple watches and branded headphones, have now become more of a fashion accessory.

We look at some of the things you can do to mitigate against the environmental impact of technology.


The mining of materials for new phone batteries is hugely detrimental to the environment, so every time you upgrade to a new model there is a green cost. Therefore, maybe consider keeping your current model if it’s still functioning well, rather than replace it?


Most mobile phones contain precious metals and plastics that can be recycled to save energy and resources that would otherwise need to be mined or manufactured. When placed in a landfill, these materials can pollute the air and contaminate soil and drinking water. This is why it is important to recycle old cell phones wherever possible. Sadly, in the UK, only around 12% of all mobile phones sold go on to be recycled.

If you are going to upgrade to a new model, then there are options to recycle your phone. Many retailers will offer you the chance to trade-in your phone for money off your new model.

You can also sell your old phone privately on e-commerce sites such as eBay. Alternatively, most charities accept old mobiles, whether they are working or not, and can raise funds by passing them on to phone recycling companies. For information about recycling go to

If you are selling or part-exchanging your phone, make sure you restore the factory settings and remove any personal data from the phone’s internal memory. Back-up any photos, music, videos and other important data you want to keep.
To download a copy of the report and read about the environmental impact of tech, go to

About the Lifeline IT ‘IT Trends Report’
The report is based on an independent survey of 1,000 people across the UK in March 2020. As well as looking at the environmental impact of technology, the report also looked at IT security, data protection and the rise in IT subscription services, such as Cloud storage and Adobe software.

* Between 6-24 months or when a new model is out or contract renewal is due.




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