New tree for every phone handed in for recycling


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 Key mobile phone recycling facts:

  • Australians upgrade or exchange their mobile phones every 18 to 24 months. There are approximately 15.5 million old mobile phones cluttering people's homes and offices across Australia, of which about 4 million no longer work
  • Three out of four people have at least one old unused mobile phone at home. Nearly four out of 10 people have at least two or more old unused mobile phones at home that could be recycled
  • By recycling mobile phones, more than 90 percent of the mobile phone product materials can be extracted and reused such as plastics, gold, silver, copper and nickel
  • 8.7 million handsets were shipped into Australia in 2006
  • 419 tons of handsets, batteries and accessories have been collected since the recycling program was initiated by AMTA in late 1999. This includes 2.45 million batteries and handsets (figures current at 31 March 2007)
  • One ton of mobile phone circuits can yield the same amount of precious metals as 110 tons of gold ore, 123 tons of silver bearing ore and 11 tons of copper sulfide ore

MobileMuster is the only whole of industry led electronic product recycling program in the world and is funded by handset and accessory manufacturers Nokia, Motorola, Samsung Electronics, LG Electronics, Sagem, Sharp, NEC, Panasonic, I-Mate, Force Technology and network carriers Telstra, Optus, Vodafone, 3 Mobile, Virgin Mobile and AAPT.

This story, "New tree for every phone handed in for recycling" was originally published by Computerworld Australia.

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