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Last Updated: Thursday December 11 2008 16:15 GMT

Ricky looks at mobile phone recycling

Ricky at Phonebank

How many mobile phones do you have - just the one?

Well I've been using a mobile for about seven years now. I can still remember the first time I sent a text message to one of my mates - it was really exciting!

But over the past couple of years I've gone through more handsets than I've had showers. Okay, that might be an exaggeration, but I have ditched a few phones in favour of the latest gadgets.

So what should you do with your old handsets? I've been finding out.

"I went to a place called Fonebank in central London where every month they receive around 70,000 old phones.

Old mobile phones
People send them in special envelopes and then Fonebank sort them into handsets that can be used again and ones that are broken forever.

If the phone is in good condition and the battery is working then Fonebank may send it off to businesses in countries like Africa or India. And if your phone is pretty new, you could be sent a cheque worth up to 50.

In some foreign countries people don't earn enough money to be able to pay for shiny new hi-tech phones like the ones many of us use.

Instead they go to shops and buy them from the companies Phonebank give our tired old phones too, for much less than a new one costs here.

Mobile phones ready for recycling
If the old mobile phones are broken and can't be used again, some of them will end up at a recycling plant in Hertfordshire.

Else Refining and Recycling centre is full of old phones. Some of them are huge phones from the early 90s while others are relatively new ones.

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What's your old mobile phone worth?

There they take the phones apart and put some of them to good use. The motherboard which holds all the computer chips for the phone can be melted down. That bit of the phone contains tiny bits of gold and silver.

The plastic covers can also be used again; they can be made into new phones or even toys.

Experts say recycling phones is good for the environment because many of the materials in the phone can be used time and time again.

So next time you get a new mobile, remember it may not be all over for your old handset. It could be just the beginning!"