New tree for every phone handed in for recycling

By Sandra Rossi, Computerworld Australia |  Green IT

The official recycling program of Australia's mobile phone industry, MobileMuster, has launched a new environmental campaign in partnership with Landcare Australia.

"Old Phones, New Trees" involves the planting of a native tree for every mobile phone handed in for recycling from now to the end of June, 2007.

The goal is to plant and maintain up to 100,000 native trees, which is estimated to offset the equivalent of 15,000 tons of carbon emissions or take 5,000 cars off the road. In the past year MobileMuster has seen encouraging results with collections and awareness increasing. But there is still a long way to go. Rose Read, manager of the Australian Mobile Telecommunication Association's (AMTA) recycling program, MobileMuster, said the campaign is designed to tackle the rising stockpile of unused mobile phones.

Estimates put the number of mobile phones lying around in cupboards and home drawers at 15.5 million, an ugly stockpile of waste. "It is vital that these mobiles are recycled and don't end up in landfill where small amounts of potentially hazardous substances such as lead or cadmium could be released into the environment," Read said. "The "Old Phones, New Trees" initiative is the first time anywhere in the world that a national mobile telecommunications industry has partnered with an environment group, to voluntarily initiate and fund a national mobile phone recycling and tree planting campaign." Brian Scarsbrick, Landcare Australia CEO, said both organizations are wholly-Australian and by joining together hope to improve biodiversity, repair degraded lands and create carbon sinks.

"If people choose to recycle their old mobile phones, over 90 percent of the plastics and metals can be turned into new products like jewelry, stainless steel and plastic fence posts," he said. MobileMuster has 1,900 drop-off points across Australia including mobile phone retailers Telstra, Optus, Vodafone, 3 Mobile, Virgin Mobile, Crazy Johns, FoneZone, Allphones as well as 160 councils and participating Sydney Credit Union and ANZ branches. To locate your nearest MobileMuster drop-off point visit www.mobilemuster.com.au Key mobile phone recycling facts:

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