Virgin Media O2 highlights potential for smartphone recycling

A survey by tech firm Virgin Media O2 and environmental charity Hubbub is indicating a potential rise in people donating their unwanted smartphones to charities.

Their research shows widespread support for recycling old devices but also ignorance among many that phones can be handed over to charities.

More than two in five people mistakenly believe that charities don’t accept smartphones that can be recycled to support people facing digital exclusion, the survey found.

Meanwhile, more than seven in ten people feel guilty for not doing more to support good causes and almost half of people say they are happy to pass on an item to a charity, if they know it will have a positive impact on someone’s life.

When asked specifically about rehoming phones, more than half want their old device to go to someone who needs it, while a similar proportion believe donating a device is better for the environment.

The survey findings have been published to help promote the tech firm and charity’s Community Calling scheme, which recycles phones for refugees, domestic abuse survivors and disadvantaged communities.

This has already seen 20,000 devices recycled, a figure that could increase markedly given their research estimates 15m unwanted devices are “gathering dust in homes and garages across the country” and such widespread support for electronic recycling to support good causes.

Virgin Media O2’s chief sustainability officer Dana Haidan said: “We know people in the UK want to do more to help communities in need, and with millions of unused phones stashed in drawers and garages, they’ve got the power to change lives by donating their devices to Virgin Media O2 and Hubbub’s Community Calling scheme.

“The quick and easy act of donating a phone will help people in need to get online and access essential services, like a booking a medical appointment, applying for a job or taking part in training, or keeping in touch with loved ones.”

The Community Calling scheme is part of the tech firm’s sustainability strategy Better Connections, which aims to encourage consumers to carry out 10m ‘circular actions’ to recycle devices and tackle electronic waste.

“Four years after Covid-19 hit, digital exclusion remains a significant issue for hundreds of thousands of people in the UK,” added Hubbub chief executive Alex Robinson.

“That’s why we’re thrilled to be celebrating the milestone of having donated 20,000 second-hand devices and free data through Community Calling.”

“We’ve made donating a device to Community Calling easy and straightforward, to encourage even more businesses and individuals to pass on their old devices to support those facing digital exclusion.”

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