Mobile Muster wants to change the mindset of Australians and make recycling mobile phones common practice, such as plastic and paper recycling.
“It’s just like what you do with your bottles and cans – once it has finished its useful life you should recycle it, not throw it in the rubbish,” Mobile Muster Recycling Manager and spokeswomen Rose Read said.
Mobile Muster recycles old mobile phones dropped in collection bins around Australia or via a free postage service, using the old materials for new products.
Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA) Chairman Henry Calvert believes that with Australians now using over 29 million mobile services and an annual turnover of 9 million devices, it is the responsibility of both the mobile industry and consumers to keep mobile phones out of landfill.
“To do this we need Australians to promise they will recycle their unwanted mobiles by either dropping them off at a MobileMuster collection point or posting them in using a recycling satchel or reply paid label,” Calvert said.
The not-for-profit Mobile Muster recycling program, which began in 1999, is funded by the AMTA in a product stewardship program.
According to Read, “Product stewardship is about manufacturers taking responsibility of their products for their entire lifetime, from their initial manufacturer and production to encourage consumers to use it appropriately and making sure once it has used it useful life it is disposed of and recycled properly.”
The AMTA, a group of 12 mobile manufactures and network carriers, is recommitting to last year’s promise to ensure “100 percent of the materials are diverted from landfill here in Australia”.
The $3.5 million cost per year to provide the service includes promotion, collection bins, transportation and the recycling process.
The process of recycling old devices in Australia is run by recycling and waste management company TES-AMM in Sydney and Melbourne, who receive the unused mobiles from the 4500 Mobile Muster collection points around the country.
“A handset is pulled to pieces, plastics go into one container, the circuit boards into another,”
“The circuit boards and batteries go across to Singapore, where they are process for further material recovery… those materials are then put back in to make new products.”
Mobile Muster is encouraging consumers to recycle the old devices because they provide potential materials for new products, and could reduce the amount of raw materials being sourced in producing new products.
Since it’s inception, Mobile Muster has collected and recycled over 6.4 million devices and their accessories, weighing over 66 tonnes, which they contend to be about 50 percent of discarded devices.
The collection point locations are available on the Mobile Muster website or free postage bags are provided at Australia Post outlets and mobile retailers.