Why do companies recycle mobile phones?

I bet many of you, like me, also has many old phones tossed away in a drawer somewhere. You can actually trade in these phones for money (well, some phones that is). I recently found out there is a booming market in the UK where companies are buying cell phones from people (some may have to be in working condition and some will have to be at a certain age).  For example The O2 phone company will give you £29.00 ($4,000.00 JMD) for a first generation iPhone with scratches and general wear and tear. Just like with these cash-for-gold merchants, I’d rather find out the source, or what exactly they are doing with them (if a company buys your phone for x, there is a chance they are making 2x from it). So what do these companies do with these phones?

  1. Refurbish and re-sell. - Some companies may do this themselves or they will send them back to the manufacturers to be refurbished.
  2. Recycle - Yes, some companies actually do recycle the materials if the phones cannot be refurbished.
  3. Re-sell locally -  Some smaller companies will just sell the phone back for little profit
  4. Re-sell in the east - Larger companies will either refurbish or just sell the phones to eastern distributors in countries like China or Africa where there are many low communication and low income communities. The buying price is determined by the buying price in the East.

I cannot do #1 and #2, #3 will be a waste of time and #4 will probably cost me more money than what I’d get for my phones. I’d rather sell my phones to one of these companies rather than their source, money and time is saved when these companies do these kind of business in bulk.