Smashed and bashed but still worth cash

We've all done the same thing at some point in our lives: dropped a mobile phone in the toilet, watched it slip from our pocket onto the floor or heard it crack as we've sat on it: basically, rendering it useless through our stupidity.

But that's shouldn't mean you can't recycle it because like we mentioned above, many companies will simply strip it down for the important materials inside anyway.

So even if your phone is labelled as 'non-working' (such as a broken / bleeding LCD screen, no power up, speaker / microphone faults, broken aerial, etc) then in most cases you'll still get up to 90% of the cash on offer for a fully functioning mobile, meaning it's worth keeping those broken devices.

More rewarding with rewards

Unsurprisingly, most people don't want to just give away their mobile phone out of the goodness of their heart, as a survey from ABI Research showed that only 1.5% of all those that recycled mobile phones have not received any kind of reward.

But the good news is mobile phone recycling is on the increase, with only eight per cent of the population having recycled their handset in 2008, according to Nokia, now up to around a third of the population.

"We have noticed that [rewards] increase the chance of people bringing back their mobile," said Saara Tahvanainen, communications manager for sustainability at Nokia. The Finnish firm has been working hard to get more people to trade in their mobile, with schemes like cash back offers or planting a tree for every mobile phone recycled.

"Even if the incentive is that we give money to charities interest increases," added Tahvanainen.

Retailers are getting in on the act too; for instance Orange has set up a 'Reward and Recycle' buy-back scheme for the public to make sure recycling is high on the agenda.

The premise is simple – go into an Orange shop, give them your old handset, and after it's examined and checked out, you'll receive money for your handset. For instance, an old Sony Ericsson C905 might be a little chunky these days, but you can still get around £70 for trading it in – and Orange will let your recycle old laptops and MP3 players too.

However, it's not just doing this out of the kindness of its heart: retailers have to adhere to Waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) regulations, put in place to make sure it's easy for consumers to recycle their old electrical goods.

Under this directive retailers and manufacturers have to offer a service for their customers to be able to easily take back their products for recycling (or at least be able to direct them to their nearest designated collection facility).

While there's no obligation for you as a consumer to do so, this directive has come into place to stop the thousands and thousands of tonnes of electrical landfill that's being thrown away every year in the UK.

Where to get the most cash

So you've rooted around in the cupboards, loft and drawers of your house and found a number of phones from years gone by you want to get rid of, but where can you get the best deal?

Well, you've got two options: either go through a phone recycling scheme, or sell the thing yourself, generally using an auction site like eBay.

Taking one of the most recycled phones around, the Nokia N95 8GB (despite being three years old), the results vary quite wildly. Over on eBay, there are models going for £150, although these are in quite good condition. However, some sellers are listing faulty units for around £65 too.

To find the best deal on mobile phone recycling sites takes a while, as you have to go through each one carefully to select the right model. Thankfully, there are options to compare all the sites at once, with options like sellmymobile.com presenting the results from 21 other sites to offer you the best deal.

However, even the best deal here will only net you £110, meaning if your phone is still in good working order it's probably best to try selling it online – although you will have to have the box and all the accessories, whereas mobile recycling sites mostly only require the charger and phone itself.

If you've got a broken phone, it's better news though: you can get up to £90 for a broken N95 8GB, much better than that available on eBay.

Vouching for vouchers

But perhaps cash isn't the only thing you want; maybe it's a shopping trip, charitable donation or even a holiday out of your old phone. Well, there are myriad sites that offer just that – and in most cases, you'll get more value using this method than just getting cash in your bank account.

For instance, if you're getting bored of your iPhone 3G, then you could just swap it for £112 at mobilephonexchange.co.uk, which is a pretty good deal on its own.

However, the same site will offer you £120 to spend at M&S, £123 for Argos and a whopping £130-worth of vouchers to spend at Debenhams.

And if you're all shopped out, the over at airmiles.co.uk, you can get 750 air miles, which equals flights to Paris, Amsterdam and, erm, Inverness. Even if you've managed to break your iPhone 3G, you'll still get 500 miles – so it's well worth checking it out.

There's also the charity option – many mobile phone recycling sites will offer the chance to donate your phone's worth to charity. For instance Envirofone.com will not only give you the option of bank transfer, cheque PayPal or vouchers for your phone, but an option to donate a portion of the reward to a charity, such as Children in Need, Barnados and Cancer Care too.