Mobile phone recycling company raises concerns about new Royal Mail rules

Mobile phones can no longer be sent in freepost envelopes because of safety concerns about lithium batteries

Mobile phones: can't be sent by freepost
Mobile phones: can't be sent by freepost

A company that recycles mobile phones to raise money for charities has raised concerns about the effect of new rules about posting goods containing lithium batteries.

The Recycling Factory works with numerous charities including the RNLI, the RSPCA, the British Heart Foundation and the Alzheimer’s Society. Last year it raised about £150,000 for good causes by recycling printer cartridges and mobile phones.

According to the NSPCC’s website, the charity has worked with the Recycling Factory since 2005 and has raised £400,000 through recycling phones and printer cartridges.

The charities’ supporters were given freepost envelopes in which to send their unwanted phones or used printer cartridges to the company.

But new Royal Mail rules, which came into force in January, say mobiles can no longer be sent in freepost envelopes. A Royal Mail spokeswoman said the rules were brought in to ensure goods containing lithium batteries, including mobile phones, could be transported safely in the post.

Any mobiles posted in the old envelopes will be disposed of from Monday, the final date that organisations in the UK were given to comply with the changes, she said.

The Recycling Factory estimates that 40 million unused freepost envelopes have gone out to charity supporters. A spokeswoman said the company has had people send back envelopes that were issued five years ago with mobile phones in them. Under the new rules, these phones will be disposed of by Royal Mail before they reach the company.

The spokeswoman for Royal Mail said mobile phone recycling companies would now have to use Tracked Returns or Special Delivery Business returns. Customers will be able to post their phones using first or second-class products from the Post Office, she said.

"Other mobile phone recycling customers have already made changes in line with our revised policy and have seen a rapid reduction in the amount of items sent in older packaging or using non-compliant services," she said.

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