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April 4, 2023

Go for Zero 2023


Kicking off on April 3, Go for Zero is the national month-long campaign that asks us all to check our desk drawers, garages and cupboards for old broken mobile phones and accessories (there are some 5 million of them stashed in people’s homes!) and get them sent in for recycling.

 Endorsing the campaign is the Minister for the Environment and Water, the Hon Tanya Plibersek MP, who says:

“The Go for Zero campaign encourages Australians to recycle their old mobile phones that are still sitting around in their homes – with the aim of having zero unused phones. There are currently around 5 million broken, unusable phones in storage around Australia.

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.”

Most people fondly remember their first mobile. The novelty, the power, the convenience of being able to make (and receive) a phone call from anywhere! No longer tethered to a cord plugged into the wall, no longer overheard by nosey family members, no longer fumbling around for coins at a public phone box, no longer having to be in a specific location to talk on the phone: mobile phones were, quite simply, a game changer.

It feels like they have been part of our lives for so long, but in fact, it’s only been a few decades. In 1990 just 1% of Australians owned a mobile phone, by 1995 this rate had increased to 13% and by 1999, around 45% of Australians owned a mobile phone. Millions of devices were already in circulation.

Of course, the extraordinary IT innovations continued, we had the Blackberry era in the early 2000s which revolutionised working on the go, and then came the smartphone – amazingly, the first gen iPhone was launched in 2007. We’ve gone from 2G to 5G (maybe without even knowing what that means) and people can now take professional quality photos and movies with their phones. Citizen journalists cover the news from all corners of the globe and share what’s happening. We’ve now got computers in the palm of our hands that count our steps, measure our pulse, how long we’ve slept and give us the answer to the most obscure question in seconds.

As early adopters, Australians eagerly embrace new technology and have welcomed new models, new features, and new types of mobile phones as they are rolled out. Millions of phones are replaced and upgraded each year, and today 9 out of 10 Australians own a smart phone.

But as much as we love the new, we also have to deal with the old. As the mobile phone business took off in Australia, the biggest telecommunications companies of the time (Nokia, Motorola, and Telstra) came together, voluntarily, to create and fund a product stewardship program called The Mobile Phone Industry’s Recycling Program. This scheme would manage their products through their full life cycle. Starting in 1998, the program has been incredibly successful; renamed the catchier MobileMuster in 2005. Ahead of its time and offered at no cost to the community, this year MobileMuster celebrates 25 years of providing a free, environmentally responsible, and sustainable recycling program for mobile phones and their accessories to all Australians.  It’s also the first voluntary product stewardship scheme in Australia to be accredited by the federal government under the Product Stewardship Act 2011.

Manufacturers have come to the party, now making phones that are almost fully (95%!) recyclable, and Australians have done their bit with one in three of us recycling an old device or accessory with MobileMuster. However, a strange thing happens when we buy a new phone, we tend to keep the old one! And they accumulate … IPSOS research estimates that there are over 26 million phones that aren’t being actively used sitting around in Australian homes, and of those 5 million are unusable and completely broken. It’s a staggering number, and one that MobileMuster continues to target in its annual Go for Zero campaign – that’s zero phones in storage.

 Astrophysicist and Swinburne professor Alan Duffy is Go for Zero’s Ambassador. He said: 

“We all care about the impact our lifestyles have on the planet which is why so many Australians have already sent their old devices to MobileMuster for recycling. In the past 25 years, they’ve recycled over 2000 tonnes of mobile phone waste, which is equivalent to 4,400 tonnes of CO2 recovered or 115,000 trees planted! But there’s more to do – this April let’s target those 5 million broken phones, even the one you’ve had for 25 years, and Go for Zero by recycling them all.”

Find your closest drop off point or order a free prepaid label here: