When you sign up to a new broadband provider or upgrade your package, you’ll likely be sent a new Wi-Fi router, or maybe even a Wi-Fi booster. Having the right bit of tech installed in your home is an essential part of making sure you’re achieving the best speeds and coverage and getting the most out of your service.
It’s now common for most routers to remain the property of the provider during the contract.
If you cancel a contract, you’ll be sent packaging to return these devices in good working order. If you can’t do this, you could be charged a replacement fee. The cost will depend on your provider and the make and model of your Wi-Fi device.
However, if you’ve stuck with a broadband provider for much longer than the minimum term and now considered 'old tech', there’s a chance your Wi-Fi router isn’t needed back. You might have also bought your own router in the past. Short of shoving them in a drawer or letting them collect a layer of greasy fudge on a bookshelf, what are you meant to do with these?
Over the course of this page, we’ll investigate the best ways to recycle a router for each broadband provider and what to do if they don’t want your old router back!
Recycling your router: the key points
How to recycle your router
Most providers will send you packaging and will arrange a courier or pay for postage, so you can return your router.
Once returned, the equipment is either refurbished or the components are used to make new ones.
However, not all will accept outdated models and some ask for you to get in touch before you send back a device.
How to recycle your BT router
BT claims that in 2020 alone, it refurbished half a million bits of equipment and prevented 170 tonnes of electrical waste going into landfill (the equivalent of 14 double-decker buses).
To recycle a BT router, you’ll need to go into your ‘My BT’ account, where you’ll see an option to ‘return your BT kit.’ You’ll be sent a white returns bag within 7 days. You’ll then be able to take this to the Post Office - although make sure you ask for proof of postage.
BT charges for unreturned routers
You’ll have 60 days to return your equipment to BT before you’re charged. Here are the current fees:
BT Home Hub, BT Smart Hub - £43
BT Smart Hub 2 - £50
Hybrid Connect - £63
Complete Wi-Fi Discs - £30 per disc
If you find the equipment at a later date, you’ll be able to return the kit within two years and receive a refund. A cheque will be sent out to your last known address.
If you’ve bought any kind of BT equipment and have older kit with a crossed out wheelie bin symbol, like this:
you can send it to:
WEEE Take Back Scheme
Although, you’ll have to pay for the cost of returning.
How to recycle your TalkTalk Router
TalkTalk currently recycles the following bits of kit:
- TalkTalk Wi-Fi Hub and Wi-Fi Hub 2
- Amazon eero 6 and eero 6 Pro
- TalkTalk TV Hub and 4K TV boxes
- TalkTalk Wi-Fi Booster
- TalkTalk GFast Modem
You’ll be sent a postage back to return the kit back free of charge, either through Royal Mail or using an EVRi ParcelShop label. The provider will reuse some components, whilst others will be recycled.
TalkTalk will also accept other broadband equipment.
If you leave TalkTalk and don’t return your devices within 42 days, you may be charged £50.
How to recycle your Sky router
You’ll be told if you need to return your Sky equipment. If so, you’ll need to send your equipment back within 60 days as standard. However, if you’ve had your services cancelled because you’ve fallen into debt, you’ll only have 30 days.
If you’ve upgraded your Sky contract and received a new router, use the same packaging to return the old one.
A prepaid returns label will be included inside this box. Alternatively, you can download a Royal Mail returns label through the Sky website.
Sky Broadband charges for unreturned routers
You'll be charged a non-return charge for any equipment that's not returned, even if it's lost or been stolen. Charges include:
- Sky Max Hub - up to £75
- Sky Broadband Hub - up to £53
- Sky Q Hub - up to £50
- Sky Max Pod - up to £68
- Sky Broadband Booster - up to £36
How to recycle your Virgin Media router
You’ll be sent a returns box when you leave Virgin Media broadband. A paper bag will be included to wrap bigger kit such as your Sky Hub. You’ll also have room to include cables, chargers, Wi-Fi Boosters or Pods.
Before sending back, peel off the top layer of the label on the box to reveal the returns address. You can then drop your box off at your nearest Yodel drop-off point.
How to recycle your Plusnet router
You can create a returns label through Royal Mail. Plusnet will see if any working parts can be reused. Alternatively, you can send your old Plusnet router to:
WEEE Take Back Scheme
at your own expense.
How to recycle your Vodafone router
To recycle your Vodafone broadband equipment, you’ll need to fill out a form to request to return.
Vodafone stands out from the other internet service providers in its efforts to recycle and reuse. You can donate any of your old tech as part of its Great British Tech Appeal.
For example, it will refurbish and re-box your old smartphones and give it to someone in need, along with six months of free data, calls and texts.
You can easily donate old phones and tablets by popping into your local Vodafone store.
What to do with an old router from another broadband provider
As well as cutting down on clutter in your home, it’s important to take responsibility for your old equipment. If you don’t recycle your electrical items carefully and put them in your household waste, they’ll end up in landfill. In doing so, hazardous substances could leak and contaminate soil, water and cause harm to humans and wildlife.
Vodafone, BT and TalkTalk will accept equipment from other providers, but there are other national schemes too.
WEEE Regulations (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) - Recycle Your Electricals
WEEE Recycle your Electricals is a fantastic resource. As well helping you find over 16,100 electrical recycling centres in the UK, there are also quick links to sites such as eBay, Facebook Marketplace and other less obvious places where you can sell your unwanted electricals.
You can also donate your devices to organisations and charities such as The Salvation Army and Young Planet, with clear links on how to do this.
Recycle Now is the national recycling scheme for England and Northern Ireland, and one of the easiest ways to get rid of your e-waste.
Search for an item to recycle and type in your postcode. You’ll be able to view a list of nearest recycling points, as well as guidance on what can and can’t be recycled.
Using an old router as a Wi-Fi extender
Before you ditch your old router, did you know you might be able to use it to improve the Wi-Fi network around your home? Read our guide to using a router as a Wi-Fi extender to see if you could give your now redundant bit of kit a new life.
What to do with your old router before selling it
Before dropping your router off at your nearest recycling point or sending it back to your provider, there’s an important data protection step to take.
We recommend giving any routers a factory reset to wipe any personal data such as admin passwords, IP addresses, configuration files and parental control settings. This should be as simple as finding the small reset button and using a pin or a paperclip to hold the button down for up to 30 seconds.
Frequently Asked Questions about recycling a router
Can I get money for an old router?
If you aren’t expected to return your device to your provider, you may be able to cash in. The WEEE site is a great resource for ideas on where to sell your old electrical items.
Can I recycle my Wi-Fi boosters?
Your provider should happily take any boosters or pods that have been included as part of your package. If you have third-party Wi-Fi repeaters and extenders, it’s worth trying to sell these second hand if you no longer need them. Alternatively, you will be able to use a local recycling centre. Find these at Recycle Now or WEEE Recycle your Electricals.
You should assume, when you sign up to a new broadband provider and get sent a hub or Wi-Fi booster, that these devices are on loan to you. It’s your responsibility to keep these in good condition, even if you decide to end up using your own router. Most providers clearly publicise the charges that you’ll incur if you don’t return these devices back.
If you aren’t given explicit instructions to return your device, you can instigate this yourself. Many providers have online forms where you can request a pre-paid returns label. BT, Vodafone and TalkTalk will even accept devices from other parties.
Alternatively, if you have older equipment kicking around, there are plenty of ways to dispose of these responsibly. Many shops and local recycling centres will happily accept old electrical items such as routers, either for repurposing or redistributing.
Whatever you do, never dispose of your router in your general waste bin. Your device will end up in landfill and this will be damaging to the environment.
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