Disposing of a phone charger can be difficult – but it is incredibly important in order to protect the environment

Minimise the impact of your e-waste by recycling your phone charger. Plus, any charger used with electronics, such as smartphones, tablets, laptops and more.
We can’t live without electronics. Technology is fundamental in our lives, ensuring we can work and play. However, electronics are constantly improving, rendering old models futile after only a few years. So, what do you do with old electronics? Often they are sent to landfill. As a result, this Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) becomes a huge environmental issue.
Laptop apple macbook electronic charger
Our blog explores one part of waste electronics that goes unnoticed: chargers. You cannot use any small electronic without cables and a means to charge it. Therefore, old, unused chargers are a huge source of waste. Research suggests that ‘old chargers generate more than 51,000 tonnes of electronic waste per year’. Unfortunately, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2015, only 12.5% of e-waste was recycled.


of e-waste is recycled

We explain how you can eliminate this waste and dispose of your chargers sustainably.

The cause of the electronic problem

There are 3.5 billion smartphone users in the world (as of 2020). That means a huge 45% of the global population owns one. Furthermore, it’s common in this technological age for some to have at least one smartphone, a laptop, and often a tablet/iPad too. Plus, e-book readers such as a Kindle, an iPod, a portable charger, a camera or any other type of portable device. For example, when it comes to any mobile device, data states nearer 5.28 billion people have one (GSMA). That’s a lot of devices.

mobile phone users in the world

As a result, you will need a charger for all of these devices.

Furthermore, it is rare that one charger can be used for more than one device. Each brand of computer has a different type of charger. Each brand of phone has a different charging port.

Landfill rubbish e-waste
Source: “King of the Trash Hill” by Alan Levine 

How does electronic waste impact the environment?

In 2018, electronic waste (e-waste) reached 50 million tonnes. The Independent reported that this is more than the weight of all commercial airliners ever made, combined. According to EPA, only 12.5% of e-waste was recycled. That means 87.5% are sent to landfill instead and often burned.

Electronics are filled with chemicals and materials harmful to human health and the environment. According to the WHO, contact with such materials (lead, cadmium or chromium) leads to health risks. These toxins also leach into soil, water, food and the air.

Why might you dispose of an electronic charger?

There are 3 main reasons as to why you need to get rid of a charger:

1) New devices mean new chargers

Out with the old, in with the new. Brand new devices are produced every year by different companies. However, this is also found within one company.

In 2012, Apple switched to using a Lightning connector cable. Thus, cables produced before this year cannot be used with any new Apple device.  As a result, the old device, and charger, will never be used again.

Phone charger and electronics disposal

2) Chargers break 

Charger cables are notoriously easy to break. Even expensive ones have a painfully short life. Once they’re broken, they’re unsafe and unusable.

3) Chargers are lost

Lastly, electronic chargers are small items. Also, it’s not uncommon for them to be taken everywhere. Often, they are left behind and lost: at university, shopping centres, days out and on buses, trains and planes.

Did you know that chargers and cables are the 3rd most commonly lost items on university campuses? Therefore, lost property offices receive high numbers of chargers. When not returned to owners, dispose of your chargers safely and sustainably.

How to get rid of a phone charger sustainably

We’re here to tell you how to get rid of a phone charger.

Recycling: retail drop off

Currys PC World, part of Dixons Carphone, offer a free recycling programme in store. They accept “everything from computers to toasters, and floor cleaners to TVs, whether bought from us or someone else”. Full information can be found here.

Verdict: Great for a few small items however probably not viable for large quantities.

Recycling: donate to WeeeCharity

WeeeCharity are committed to recycling e-waste responsibly in the UK. Arrange a collection of any type of electronic waste through an online form here. They accept computers, laptops, telephones, mobile phones, iPad, tablets, a range of components, cables and plenty more. Find the full list of items here.


Verdict: Great for any number of different electronic and electrical items. They operate all over the UK.

Buy more responsibly

Fundamentally, the root of the e-waste problem is that we live in a throw-away society, whereby intense consumerism drives our behaviour. Simply, think more about what you are buying.

Do I need to purchase something new? How am I going to dispose of the old product now I’m finished with it? Are there sustainable alternatives?

Nimble provide tech that is better for the environment. Sustainable materials are used in their products and they offer free recycling for old tech. For example, portable chargers are ‘made from plants and recycled aluminium’. It may cost a bit more, but will have a much lower cost when it comes to the planet. Explore more here.

In conclusion

Therefore, companies with chargers and cables in their lost property should recycle their e-waste sustainably through the programmes outlined above. Alternatively, find some similar schemes near you.

On the other hand, individuals with old chargers and cables should find a local drop off point at an electronics store. Do your bit to ensure less e-waste is reaching landfill and negatively impacting our health and the environment.

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