Gift cards for old mobile phones offer launched

Old mobile phone Image copyright Getty Images

UK consumers can now trade in old mobile phones for an instant reward on the High Street in an initiative led by government-funded charity Wrap.

The eco-friendly organisation has set up a scheme with catalogue retailer Argos for customers to swap old phones and tablets for store gift vouchers.

The scheme will be extended to other items such as laptops if it goes well.

IT industry analyst Chris Green told BBC News previous technology recycling schemes had succeeded.

"The challenge is getting more people to recycle more," he said.

"We know people have a large amount of redundant technology sitting in drawers and cupboards, and it is better to recycle it than for it to go into landfill.

"Most schemes have usually been mail-based, but adding this extra element is great for bringing in different parts of society - people who are less internet-savvy or those who don't have time to get to a post office during office hours but do have time to get to a retail store after work."

Data removed

Argos will transfer exchanged items to a specialist service provider to wipe the data and prepare them for reuse.

Customers will be given an instant quote over the counter. And if they decide to part with their gadget, they will receive gift vouchers to spend in Argos - with the amount depending on the product model and the condition of the item.

The cost of data wiping is included when calculating how much the consumer will receive in exchange for their product.

The service provider has direct links to trade markets and can provide real-time valuation for products.

The scheme was set up and tested through Rebus, a European Commission-funded project, which is working with other companies to develop similar offers for customers.

If more retailers join the scheme at a later date, it would be up to them to decide how to compete for customers' business.