Go for Zero: call to recycle old mobile phones


Thursday, 13 April, 2023

Go for Zero: call to recycle old mobile phones

Go for Zero is a campaign that calls for old and broken mobile phones and accessories to be sent in for recycling.

The campaign is endorsed by the Hon Tanya Plibersek MP, Minister for the Environment and Water.

“I hope this campaign encourages everyone to hunt around at home and find their old, unusable phones which can be taken to be recycled. The Australian Government is working towards a circular economy, and programs like MobileMuster are helping us to get there,” Plibersek said.

Mobile phones might feel as though they have been part of our lives for so long, but it has only been a few decades. In 1990, only 1% of Australians owned a mobile phone, but by 1999 this had increased to 45%. Today, following IT innovations and technology developments, 9 out of 10 Australians own a smartphone, with millions of phones being replaced and upgraded each year.

As much as Australians love the new, the old has to be dealt with. As the mobile phone business grew in Australia, large telecommunications companies (Nokia, Motorola and Telstra) came together to create and fund a product stewardship program called The Mobile Phone Industry’s Recycling Program. The program started in 1998 and has since been renamed MobileMuster — celebrating 25 years of the program this year. The scheme manages products through their full life cycle and is offered at no cost to the community.

Manufacturers have also shifted towards being more environmentally conscious, now making phones that are 95% recyclable. Using MobileMuster, one in three Australians have recycled an old device or accessory; however, IPSOS research has estimated that there are over 26 million phones that aren’t being actively used sitting around in Australian homes, 5 million of which are completely broken and unusable. MobileMuster aims to target this number in its annual Go for Zero campaign.

Astrophysicist and Swinburne professor Alan Duffy is Go for Zero’s Ambassador. He said MobileMuster has recycled over 2000 tonnes of mobile phone waste in the past 25 years, but there’s more to be done.

Image credit: iStock.com/antos777

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