The UK is fast becoming a “throwaway nation”, where “old electronics are being dumped before the end of their useful life”, according to a new survey.
The survey, conducted by BidGrid.co.uk, found that 16 per cent of UK mobile owners throw their old phone in the bin when they replace it.
"Prices of gadgets are so low these days, customers prefer to buy new rather than send off a broken item for repair," said Emma Brown of BidGrid.co.uk.
"Unfortunately, many people don’t know how to dispose of electronics properly, so they’re often thrown straight into the bin.”
Just over a quarter (27 per cent) of owners instead sell the old handset, with 15 per cent giving it away and around a third (33 per cent) leaving the devices to sit in a drawer.
Only four per cent of people asked recycled their phones.
BidGrid.co.uk suggested that the growth in phones being discarded while still operational was due to the increase of rolling phone contracts, “early change” offers and an obsession with keeping up with new technology.
"Nobody seems to want old stuff any more,” explained Brown.
“Once a new generation of technology emerges, we are very quick at dumping the old. It’s as if we can’t bear to be left behind."
"It’s much more evident in young people, where the peer pressure to have the best new tech is the strongest."
The average lifespan of a new mobile phone was found by the research to be only 23 months among under 21 year olds, compared to three years for those aged between 21 and 30 and four years for over 30s.
Brown compared the short lifespan of phones with the time that consumers keep items such as cookers, fridges and microwaves, which are held onto for 20 years, 15 years and the “best part of a decade” respectively.
“We found that people are less likely to dispose of their large household items,” explained Brown.
“Customers will put up with the same ‘white goods’ for donkeys years as long as they don’t break.”
Brown stated that despite a greater number of abandoned devices, services designed to recover and revitalise prematurely dumped electronics were also becoming more popular across the UK.
“Interestingly, small electronic item collection bins raising funds for charities are now appearing in recycling centres and car parks across Britain,” she said.
“It’s an acknowledgement of the size of the trend, and the value that’s still in these used goods.”
Image of bin full of phones courtesy of Shutterstock.co.uk