This section explores the increase in consumption patterns for digital technology, in particular our mobile devices. As technology evolves our mobile devices are continuously improving and the functionality and efficiency is enhanced. The desire to upgrade to new and better devices has led to more phones being purchased. Some of the resources used to make mobile phones are finite and non-renewable and can lead to social and environmental issues.
Students need to question what people do with old phones. How can the materials that go into making mobile phones be recovered and reused in the supply chain? Identification of how the mobile telecommunication industry is moving towards a more sustainable supply chain allows students to investigate the solutions required through the geographical inquiry process.
Students follow the sustainability action process to run a MobileMuster in their school.
How can I contribute to a sustainable future?
Students follow the sustainability action process to run a MobileMuster in their school. The process is outlined on the MobileMuster website and in Section 5 of this unit. Students can be assessed for the entire project or in part, such as running a successful advertising campaign, or by collecting and evaluating data collected throughout the MobileMuster program.
Students will survey the class and other classes in the year to investigate how many mobile phones are sitting inactive in people’s homes. The prediction for the class survey follows research completed by MobileMuster that Australians have outdated mobile phones that are found inactive in people’s homes. As the investigation progresses students will recognise the environmental, social and economic impacts of not recycling personal mobile devices. Students will reflect on global, local and individual practice in the use, storage and disposal of end of life mobile technology.
Mobile technology has transformed our connections to places. Technology will continue to advance and provide endless opportunities for individuals to enhance their lives in their place. As technology evolves, sustainable and ethical practices need to be adopted to ensure for the protection of people and places into the future.
The resources used in this section can be accessed on the MobileMuster website. The Mobile Connection digital book can be used throughout this section to help students navigate through the content and run a MobileMuster in their school. The digital book contains narrated videos, stunning images and interactive activities to engage students in the classroom. MobileMuster is the mobile phone industry’s official product stewardship program and provides a free mobile phone recycling program so that mobile phones can be recycled when they reach the end of their life.
MobileMuster is managed by the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA) on behalf of its members.
View the video Everything you need to know about 5G (6:14min).
Read the article The World Has an E-Waste Problem.
After viewing the video and reading the article The World Has an E-Waste Problem discuss the following questions:
Research recent statistics on global mobile subscriptions using data sources such as The World Bank. Complete the following activities:
View the MobileMuster: What Type of Hoarder Are You? (0:38min) video. Create a graphic organiser to represent how students manage used mobile phones.
Conduct a survey to gather data on the quantity of unused phones in people’s homes.
Students will describe the processes in the linear supply chain of mobile phone production. They will recognise the use of resources that goes into phone production, including the use of finite resources. Students will formulate opinions on the importance of creating a more sustainable and ethical supply chain for the future of mobile technologies.
As mobile phone use increases so too does the potential to create environmental, social and economic impacts. Potential issues around the production process include mining, exploitation of labour, pollution, resource use and threats to habitat. The focus of the following lessons will be the responses by government, groups and individuals to minimise the effects of production and consumption.
View the MobileMuster: What’s Inside Your Phone animation (1.29min).
How phones are made – Oppo Factory Tour (5.58min).
View the MobileMuster animation and create a consequences chart identifying the four stages of the production process involved in the making of mobile phones and the resulting environmental, social and economic impacts at each stage.
Research an environmental or social consequence that results from the mobile phone production process.
Students are introduced to sustainable concepts of product development and how circular economy principles can be applied to current business practice. Students are able to rethink our approach to design and can start to imagine a more sustainable future.
Designing for sustainability will help to provide solutions to current issues in our patterns of production and consumption. To extend students’ knowledge in designing for sustainability, lesson sequences could be initiated using the Ellen Macarthur Foundation on ‘Rethinking the system’.
Students will investigate solutions in the lifecycle of the mobile phone through sustainable design.
The mobile phone industry is making progress towards a more sustainable future. The concept of and laws associated with product stewardship provides a framework for corporate and individual responsibility to reduce the environmental, social and economic impacts of not just mobile devices but all products.
Questions for inquiry
View the MobileMuster: Our Story animation (1.02min).
Investigate the term product stewardship.
In groups, students select one of MobileMuster’s member organisations and research the environmental initiatives to reduce the impacts of their products and services on the environment.
A link to the environmental pages of MobileMuster member organisatons is found on the About menu on the MobileMuster website.
Create a presentation on the key environmental stewardship initiatives discovered in your research.
Students will investigate what happens to mobile phones when they reach their end of life, known as e-waste. Students will recognise the environmental and social impacts of phones when they are discarded and understand the laws that seek to limit the dumping of e-waste.
“There is no such thing as away, when we throw anything away it must go somewhere” – Annie Leonard, The Story of Stuff.
Electronics waste, e-waste is the product of consumers discarding products once they are no longer useful or obsolete. Governments and industry are now seeking alternatives to a product’s end-of-life by introducing better design, circular economies and recycling initiatives.
View the MobileMuster: Extending the Life of your Phone (0.59min) animation.
View Story Hopper – A free trip (4.00min).
View the two stimulus videos and complete the following activities:
View the ABC news report ‘Australian e-waste ending up in a toxic African dump’.
In this lesson students will recognise the importance of recycling mobile phones responsibly. Students will examine the mobile phone recycling process in Australia: who is involved, what components are recovered and re-used in other products and how recycling mobile phones aims to reduce negative environmental and social impacts. Students will interact with the MobileMuster website to learn more about recycling in Australia.
The Sustainability Action Process is the framework for students to plan and execute action for sustainability. The framework is detailed in section 5. Students can develop a case for change and develop a program to implement a MobileMuster in the school. MobileMuster is Australia’s government accredited mobile phone recycling program.
View the video MobileMuster: What happens when you recycle (01:43min).
Visit the Recycling pages of the MobileMuster website.
Use the data collected from the survey conducted in Lesson 16 to complete the following activities: