H ow many old mobile phones and tablets are languishing in your home? A quick inventory of my drawers, where gadgets go to die, reveals a stash bigger than Las Vegas’s neon boneyard .
There are five phones, a couple of them smart and stored inexplicably in their original boxes (a state of affairs that makes me look like a serious collector, but is really an example of senseless hoarding). There’s also an Asus tablet that looks, under closer inspection, to be an extremely small Etch A Sketch. It’s a shameful walk down technology lane, although it’s surprising how nostalgic you can get when confronted by your partner’s old Sony Ericsson K850. It also prompts some existential questioning, namely: why the hell am I still using a cracked, two-year-old Samsung Galaxy S3 when I could be posturing ironically with a Nokia 2730 ?
British householders are estimated to have around £1bn-worth of unused electronic equipment lurking in their lofts, drawers and cupboards. Now, we can offload some of it to the high street whence it came. Argos, in partnership with the waste-prevention charity Wrap. has become the first big UK retailer to offer an on-the-spot trade-in service in all 788 of its stores. It’s not the first company to recycle products – I know because I had a first-generation iPod reconditioned at Glasgow’s Apple store in 2008 – but it’s the first time a high-street store has moved from what Gerrard Fisher, Wrap’s
special adviser, calls “a one-way sales model” to “buying products back from the customer”.
Take in your unwanted gadgetry – it’s phones and tablets only for now, but potentially laptops, cameras and satnavs in future – and you’ll be offered an instant quote on its trade-in value. Your gadgets are then checked, wiped, refurbished and sold on or recycled for parts. In return, you get a gift voucher to spend in store, so you can buy another gadget … and put it in your drawer … and repeat until death. It’s called the circular economy. apparently.
And so to Argos to find out what my years of stockpiling are worth:
Apple iPhone 3G (16GB). 90p
Apple iPhone 5 (16GB). £45
Asus Eee PC 2G Surf. £22.50
HTC One. £45
Sony Ericsson K850. £0 (recycle only)
Result! OK, the only device that actually belongs to me is the Nokia (the rest, technically, is my partner’s property, including the worthless Sony Ericsson – ha!) and the amount we originally paid was probably 10 times the trade-in value. Still, it’s a win-win in terms of making a few quid, having a clear out, recycling and helping the circular economy to keep, erm, circulating. A cursory flick through the Argos catalogue leads me to a Sony smartwatch for £114.95. Seeing as I’ve got plenty of space in my drawers now, I may as well go for it.