What is MobileMuster?
MobileMuster is the Australian mobile phone industry's official product stewardship program. It's a free mobile phone recycling program that accepts all brands and types of mobile phones, plus their batteries, chargers and accessories. Basically, it's the industry's way of ensuring mobile phone products don't end up in landfill - but instead are recycled in a safe, secure and ethical way.
What's in a mobile phone handset?
Mobile phones are made up of plastics, metals, ceramics and glass. What's inside will vary from phone to phone, but usually a mobile is made up of:
To find out exactly what's inside your mobile phone, see the manufacturer's specifications or click here for more information.
Why is it important to recycle old mobiles?
Over 90% of the materials used in a mobile are recyclable and can be reused, avoiding future greenhouse gas emissions, saving energy, protecting our environment and conserving scarce natural resources.
Mobile phone components should also never be thrown in the rubbish, where they could end up in landfill. For one thing they're not biodegradable, so they won't break down. On top of that, mobiles contain some substances that can potentially harm the environment if not disposed of correctly.
When should I recycle my mobile phone, battery, charger or accessories?
Mobile phones and their accessories can be recycled when you no longer want them or if you're upgrading your mobile and don't need the old one. All batteries have a limited life depending on use, design and quality. Your battery is ready to be recycled when it is dead, no longer charges effectively or talk time is significantly reduced.
How many mobiles has MobileMuster collected?
Who funds MobileMuster?
MobileMuster is voluntarily funded by members of the mobile phone industry - Microsoft, Motorola, Samsung Electronics Australia, HTC, Huawei, ZTE, Force Technology, Telstra, Optus, Vodafone, and Virgin Mobile. Most of the program's revenue comes from a small levy of 42 cents paid by these members on each mobile handset that comes into Australia. A small recycling rebate is also received on some of the components recycled, that offsets around 2% of the program's costs. MobileMuster is run on a not-for-profit basis.
Who is AMTA and what role do they play with MobileMuster?
The Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA) is the peak industry body of the mobile phone industry. It manages MobileMuster on behalf of its members on a not-for-profit basis. With the help of AMTA, MobileMuster has been established as an industry-led, voluntary program that reduces the environmental impact of mobile phones, batteries, chargers and accessories. To learn more about AMTA, click here.
Who manages the recycling process?
AMTA has engaged TES-AMM (Melbourne and Sydney based specialists in e-waste management) to manage the recycling of mobile phones, batteries, chargers and accessories.
Handsets, circuit boards, lithium ion and nickel metal hydride batteries and accessories are processed by TES-AMM in Singapore.
Nickel cadmium batteries are sent for processing to the Korean based company, KOBAR Ltd, which meets South Korea's strict environmental standards for processing these batteries.
Residue plastics from handset casings and housings are processed locally by Australian Composite Technology who uses the plastic to produce new composite plastic fence posts.
Why can’t we recycle all the components in Australia?
Unfortunately, the technologies and services required to recycle batteries and circuit boards are currently not available in Australia. The mobile phone industry is committed to using world best practice and regularly assesses the available processes to ensure the highest environmental standards are maintained. Wherever appropriate local recyclers are used.
What is extracted from the recycling process?
A whole range of precious ferrous and non-ferrous metals and plastics are extracted from mobiles. Circuit boards are stripped then processed in specialised smelters to remove gold, silver and palladium. Batteries are hulled to remove excess plastic, then smelted to extract pure cadmium and cobalt (to make new batteries) and nickel and steel in alloy form. Plastics from handset casings and accessories are also extracted and shredded for reuse. To learn more about the recycling process click here.
What can be made using components from old mobiles?
Plenty. Right now, materials recovered through MobileMuster are being used to make stainless steel products and plastic fence posts. New uses are being developed all the time.
Are all mobiles accepted?
Yes. MobileMuster accepts all makes and models of mobile, including handsets, batteries and mobile accessories.
What do people do with their old mobile phones?
Each year MobileMuster appoints IPSOS to conduct an independant online suvey of more than 1000 mobile phone users aged 16 year or older randomly selected from all States across Australia.
In response to what people said they did with their previous mobile phone
82% of mobile phone users said they either kept it (61%) or passed it on (21%)- with 57% keeping it 'just in case', 17% keeping it even though it wasn't working, 4% still using it, 16% gave it to someone else, 2% traded it, 2% sold it 1% gave it to charity.
9% of people recycled it,
3% threw it out,
3% were lost or stolen
Are the mobiles collected ever refurbished to be re-sold?
No, never. It's our promise that every phone we collect will be kept out of landfill and recycled. We don't repair phones for reuse or resale.
Where can I take my old phone to be recycled?
MobileMuster has over 4,000 public drop-off points across Australia. These are located at most mobile phone retailers including Telstra, Yes Optus, Vodafone, Virgin Mobile, Fone Zone, Allphones, Dick Smiths and JB-HiFi, Cartridge World, Battery World, Officeworks and Salvos stores. You can also find drop-off points at local council libraries, transfer stations and resource recovery centres and various other places.
To find your nearest collection centre/drop off point click here or call 1300 730 070.
Remember, you can also post your mobile and accessories into us. Just pick up a free reply paid recycling satchel from participating Australia Post outlets, or download a free reply paid mailing label here.
What if I have data left on my old phone?
We encourage you to remove all personal information from your mobile and SIM card before you recycle them. As all mobiles are dismantled and processed, any data left on the phone or SIM card will be destroyed. Find out more here.
Can I organise my own Muster at work or school?
Yes, definitely. Anyone can participate and it's free. MobileMuster will support you by providing a collection unit, promotional materials and a free pick-up service. To register, or find out more, click here.
I live in a remote area – can I still participate?
Absolutely. MobileMuster can deliver and pick up anywhere in Australia, so you can organise a Muster even if you live in a rural area. To register your interest or find out more, click here. Remember, you can also use reply-paid post to send in old mobiles and accessories to MobileMuster. Download a mailing label here, or pick up a free reply paid satchel at Australia Post stores.
Do I have to pay to be part of the program?
No, participation is free. Everyone who collects mobile phones and accessories as part of MobileMuster is eligible to receive a collection unit, promotional materials and free pick-up service for each site.
Why can’t mobile phones be thrown away?
Mobile phones are not biodegradable, and they contain some substances that can potentially harm the environment if not handled correctly at the end of a phone's useful life. So they should never be thrown out in the rubbish, where they can end up in landfill
If mobile batteries can damage the environment, can they be harmful to my health?
No. While some components in mobiles (such as heavy metal cadmium, found in NiCad batteries) can be harmful if they enter the environment, they aren't dangerous to people when used as intended.
Can I buy or have a recycled mobile phone?
No. All the mobiles collected by MobileMuster are recycled, and none are refurbished or available for resale. It's actually counted as theft if any mobiles or accessories are removed from a MobileMuster collection unit after they've been dropped off.
Can I get my mobile back after it’s been placed in a MobileMuster bin?
All mobile phones, batteries and accessories handed in for recycling become the property of AMTA and can't be retrieved by the previous owner or sold for reuse by anyone.
How can I recycle my computer or my regular batteries?
Recycling satchels are available from your nearest Auspost outlet - click here to find your nearest one.