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Out of the junk drawer and into recycling

Mobile Muster calls on Australians to join the war on mobile phone waste

  • Mobile Muster, Australia’s government accredited mobile phone recycling program, is calling on Australians to dig out and recycle their old mobile phones. This follows the ABC’s latest War on Waste episode which shone a light on the growing issue of e-waste in Australia and how people can recycle their phones.

    Australia has more old phones stored away than there are people in the country – that equates to two for every household, and that figure is rising. By 2028, Mobile Muster predicts that Australians will be holding onto nearly 30 million old mobile phones.

    The War on Waste highlighted the rapid growth of e-waste in Australia and how more needs to be done to address the issue. Off the back of the show, Mobile Muster is calling on Australians to join the war on waste by taking their phones out of storage and into recycling.

    Spyro Kalos, Manager, Mobile Muster, says: “Most of us know that we shouldn’t throw our phones in the bin. But many of us still hang on to them, just in case they’re needed – often they’re never used again and sit forgotten in a drawer.”

    Research shows that three in four Australians are aware that they can recycle their old phones, and Mobile Muster is committed to doing more to educate people on how they can recycle responsibly through its program.

    Mobile Muster runs consumer awareness campaigns to highlight the environmental and social importance of recycling phones. The program works closely with local councils, workplaces, schools and retailers to raise the awareness of mobile phone recycling. It also partners with charities to give mobile users an added incentive to recycle their phones while doing good in their local communities.

    “We know that recycling can be confusing sometimes, so we cut through that by providing a free and simple way for people to easily recycle their mobile phones. To date, we’ve recycled over 1,300 tonnes of mobile phones and accessories, including 13 million handsets and batteries. But there is always more to do.

    “With millions of phones lying dormant at home, the e-waste problem is getting bigger and we all need to be talking about it more. Mobile phones can and should be recycled when they reach the end of their lives. We can all do our part to fight the war on waste, and it starts at home. That’s why we’re calling all Australians to find their old phones and recycle them the right way – today,” says Mr Kalos.

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It’s a win for councils at the MobileMuster awards

MobileMuster, recognised their top local government recyclers at the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) National General Assembly in Canberra.

  • With electronic waste one of the faster growing waste streams in Australia, MobileMuster demonstrates how industry and government can work together to deliver a great recycling service to the community.

    With the support of local councils, the government accredited mobile phone recycling program, works to raise awareness and encourage recycling action.

    The District Council of Kimba in South Australia had the honour of taking out the National Top Collector per Capita. Located halfway across Australia on the northern Eyre Peninsula in South Australia the agricultural district has been involved in the MobileMuster program since 2007. Each year the council books in a free collection with MobileMuster.

    Spyro Kalos, Manager, MobileMuster said, “It’s great to have regional and remote councils, such as the District Council of Kimba, be active MobileMuster collection partners. It helps to make the program accessible and convenient for local residents.”

    “Councils play a crucial role in encouraging the community to recycle, over the last 12 years they’ve done an incredible job of delivering almost 34 tonnes of mobiles and accessories for recycling.”

    “The real winner is the environment which benefits from the hard work and commitment of local councils who provide the community with a responsible and secure way to recycle their mobile phones.”

    The top collectors are determined by total weight of mobile phones and accessories that have been collected by each council across Australia between 1 May 2017 and 30 April 2018. See list of winning councils below.

    Top local council collectors in each state:

    • New South Wales: Hornsby Shire Council
    • Northern Territory: Alice Springs Town Council
    • Queensland: Brisbane City Council
    • South Australia: City of Onkaparinga
    • Tasmania: Waratah Wynyard Council
    • Victoria: Nillumbik Shire Council
    • Western Australia: City of Stirling

    National top collector per capita: District Council of Kimba , South Australia.

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New schools program encourages sustainable outcomes

Leading product stewardship program MobileMuster has launched an Australian first educational program, Mobile Connections, which focuses on the interconnections students have with mobile phones and empowers them to make sustainable decisions.

  • Mobile Connections brings together a comprehensive curriculum with immersive digital resources and accredited teacher professional development, to foster critical thinking and enable students to make decisions and take actions that contribute to creating a sustainable world.

    MobileMuster Manager, Spyro Kalos, hopes Mobile Connections will inspire students to think about their personal use of mobile phones and the impact they have on the world, “We want students to be the advocates for environmental change within their school and community, and to take action.”

    The Field of Mars Environmental Education Centre (EEC) worked with MobileMuster to develop the Mobile Connections curriculum and digital books to be in line with the best educational practice. The program also fosters the responsible use of technology to extend the learning environment.

    “We are excited to be working with MobileMuster on the program, which will offer Geography teachers contemporary content to engage their students. We can’t wait to see the uptake of it by teachers who are eagerly waiting for the professional development courses to start,” said Steve Papp, Principal Field of Mars EEC.

    Schools will be supported through the program to conduct a student lead recycling event for their community and communicate why product stewardship is important. The educational resources are free to use and will be regularly updated with new content and ongoing support for schools and teachers nationwide.

    Access the Mobile Connections resources or find out more information about the program .

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Recycle your old mobile and make a difference

Customers can recycle their old mobiles and accessories at their nearest Officeworks store and help raise much needed funds for The Smith Family.

  • Customers can recycle their old mobiles and accessories at their nearest Officeworks store and help raise much needed funds for The Smith Family to support disadvantaged students to stay in school and go on to further studies.

    Simply hand in your old mobiles and accessories to the friendly Officeworks staff who will place it in a MobileMuster collection box behind the counter. Remember to remove any data that you would like to keep before you recycle. All of the the mobile phones collected will be responsibly recycled by the government-accredited MobileMuster program.

    The Smith Family helps children and young people to succeed at school and create a better future for themselves by providing targeted support throughout their education. Officeworks and The Smith Family have been partnering for the past five years to help make bigger things happen to improve the educational outcomes for disadvantaged students. As part of this partnership The Smith Family will receive $2 for every kilogram of mobiles and accessories collected in-store at Officeworks.

    Read about The Smith Family

    Find your local Officeworks Store

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MobileMuster showcases top local government recyclers

MobileMuster will showcase their top council recyclers at the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) National General Assembly in Canberra in June 2018. Currently there are over thirty five local councils from around Australia in the running for a Top Recycler awards.

  • Council partners continue to increase collections and find innovative ways to support MobileMuster and encourage the community to recycle. This year they collected over 4.6 tonnes of mobile phone components for recycling.

    MobileMuster has been partnering with local councils for over 12 years to make recycling accessible and community-friendly. It works with 370 councils around Australia to help divert thousands of tonnes of non-renewable resources out of landfill and back into the manufacture of new products.

    “Councils play an important role in offering convenient public drop-off points and educating the community on how to recycle responsibly. Over the last 12 years local councils have collected almost 40 tonnes of mobile phone components,” says Spyro Kalos, Recycling Manager, MobileMuster.

    Positive partnerships with local councils are a key factor in the success of the government accredited mobile phone recycling program. Each year MobileMuster attracts more local government partners who continue to increase collections for the program.

    If your council doesn’t currently participate in the MobileMuster program and is interested in getting involved you can register online or call 02 8920 3555. Once registered MobileMuster can provide you with free collection units tailored for admin centres, libraries and waste transfer sites, plus resources to promote the program.

    About the Awards

    Councils have until the end of April to organise their final collections so they can be counted towards their total collections.

    The awards are based on the council who has collected the most mobile phone components for recycling between 1 May 2017 and 30 April 2018. The Top Collector in each state and territory as well as a Top Collector Per Capita will be announced at the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) National General Assembly in Canberra in June 2018.

    The councils in the running for the top collector awards in each state and territory (in alphabetical order).

    Top Per Capita

    • Alexandrina Council
    • District Council of Barunga West
    • District Council of Kimba
    • Shire of Wyalkatchem
    • Shire of York

    New South Wales

    • Hornsby Shire Council
    • Lake Macquarie City Council
    • Newcastle City Council
    • Randwick City Council
    • Wingecarribee Shire Council

    Northern Territory

    • Alice Springs Town Council
    • City of Palmerston
    • Darwin City Council
    • East Arnhem Regional Council
    • West Arnhem Regional Council

    Queensland

    • Brisbane City Council
    • Bundaberg Regional Council
    • Cairns Regional Council
    • Redland City Council
    • Townsville City Council

    South Australia

    • Alexandrina Council
    • City of Charles Sturt
    • City of Mitcham
    • City of Onkaparinga
    • City of Tea Tree Gully

    Tasmania

    • Break O’Day Council
    • Glenorchy City Council
    • Kingborough Council
    • Launceston City Council
    • Waratah Wynyard Council

    Victoria

    • City of Monash
    • Latrobe City Council
    • Moonee Valley City Council
    • Nillumbik Shire Council
    • Yarra City Council

    Western Australia

    • City of Albany
    • City of Bunbury
    • City of Cockburn
    • City of Stirling
    • Shire of Harvey
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E-waste recycling initiative paves way for greener future

Leading product stewardship program, MobileMuster has partnered with local battery recycler, Envirostream, to offer councils new recycling bins that collect mobiles phones and all types of batteries.

  • Leading product stewardship program, MobileMuster has partnered with local battery recycler, Envirostream, to offer councils new recycling bins that collect mobiles phones and all types of batteries.

    The partnership is initially targeting local councils in Victoria who are preparing for the e-waste landfill ban, coming into effect 1 July 2019 to tackle one of Australia’s fastest growing waste streams. From there the units will be rolled out nationally to local councils and selective retailers.

    Research shows approximately 256,000 tonnes of e-waste will be produced in Victoria by 2035; and in this year alone, approximately six million old and unused phones across the state are sitting in drawers gathering dust.

    Spyro Kalos, Recycling Manager from MobileMuster says, “We know that consumers are keen to recycle batteries along with their mobile phones and accessories in an environmentally sound way.

    The partnership will make it easy for councils to offer residents a multi-collection station so they can responsibly dispose of their mobile phones and all batteries in the one place.”

    Over the next 12 months as councils get ready for the ban, MobileMuster will be ramping up their education campaign in Victoria to let residents know how and where to recycle their mobile phones and batteries.

    All of the batteries that are collected in the new recycling bins will be processed by Envirostream’s facilities based in Victoria. The mobile phones and accessories will also initially be processed locally before further processing for resource recovery.

    Andrew Mackenzie Director from Envirostream says, “Our Australian-owned, battery processing facility is based on international best practice and can safely recover more than 95% of the resources from end-of-life batteries. We send those resources to metal and battery manufacturers, where they can be used as raw materials in new batteries.”

    Victorians can contribute to having a positive environment impact by actively recycling their ewaste.

    Residents can responsibly recycle their mobile phones and accessories through the MobileMuster program by visiting participating local councils and retail stores including Telstra, Optus, Vodafone, Virgin Mobiles, Officeworks and Salvos Stores. Search for your local drop-off point.

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MobileMuster Committed to Working with Councils

Recently in the media there have been a number of news stories about local councils stopping their curbside recycling services due to cost increases associated with China’s foreign waste ban. The ban has no impact on MobileMuster’s recycling process and the program will continue to offer the community and local councils a free service throughout Australia.

  • Recently in the media there have been a number of news stories about local councils stopping their curbside recycling services due to cost increases associated with China’s foreign waste ban. The ban has no impact on MobileMuster’s recycling process and the program will continue to offer the community and local councils a free service throughout Australia.

    In the 20 years that MobileMuster has been operating it has developed solid partnerships with over 370 local councils, providing a robust and environmentally sound solution for the disposal of mobile phones and accessories. The work with councils has diverted over 20 tonnes of mobile phone components out of landfill so they can be recovered and reused. MobileMuster’s recycling process recovers 99% of the materials in a mobile phone. MobileMuster is committed to collaborating with councils to educate the community on how they can recycle responsibly through the program.

    In instances where local councils do not support mobile phone recycling then consumers can search to find alternative drop off points in their local community. The collection network for the program includes over 1500 retailers including all major phone retailers, such as Telstra, Optus and Vodafone.

    If your council doesn’t currently participate in the MobileMuster program and is interested in getting involved visit our partners page to register. Once registered MobileMuster provides councils with free collection units tailored for admin centres, libraries and waste transfer sites, plus resources to promote mobile phone recycling to their residents.

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MobileMuster turns old mobiles into meals for people in need

Over summer MobileMuster teamed up with OzHarvest to encourage recycling

  • Over summer MobileMuster teamed up with OzHarvest to encourage Australians to clean out the junk drawer and recycle their old mobiles through the Mobile for a Meal initiative.

    We achieved our target of recycling 70,000 mobiles which meant we were able to deliver 70,000 meals to vulnerable Australians through OzHarvest. Thanks to all of our collection partners and everyone who participated.

    What happens with the phones?

    When we receive your mobiles and accessories, everything is dismantled and the components processed to maximize recovery rates. We make sure that everything is recycled in an environmentally responsible manner.

    Through our recycling over 99% of the materials in a mobile phone are recovered. This process reduces the impact of mobile phones on the environment by avoiding future greenhouse gas emissions, saving energy and conserving natural resources.

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MobileMuster & ChemClear team up in South Australia

South Australian property owners can safely dispose of their mobile phones at the same time as their unwanted farm chemicals, when Agsafe’s ChemClear collection hits the road in June.

  • The agricultural and veterinary chemical waste disposal program has teamed up with MobileMuster, the mobile industry product stewardship program, for the first collection of its kind, giving remote farmers and growers a chance to recycle mobiles and accessories. MobileMuster recycling manager, Spyro Kalos said the collaboration will make it easy for rural residents to responsibly dispose of both their mobile phones and chemicals in one convenient collection.

    “This is a great initiative that tackles two waste streams and gives residents an opportunity to declutter their home or work space in a safe, secure and environmentally sound way,” he said.

    The aim of the MobileMuster program is to keep old mobiles and accessories out of landfill and ensure they are responsibly recycled. MobileMuster accepts and recycles all brands and types of mobile phones and accessories. Everything is recycled, nothing is resold and all data is destroyed in the process. ChemClear is a waste management program that encourages farmers and other agvet chemical users to clean up their farms and chemical stores, and register unused chemicals for collection and safe disposal to ensure sound environmental practices.

    Waste holders have until 27 April to register their unwanted farm chemicals visit chemclear.org.au for details.

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MobileMuster Partners with Able Australia to Help Deafblind People Stay Connected

Currently there are an estimated 288,000 Australians who live with no hearing and sight and this number is predicted to rise to over one million by 2050 (1). This September MobileMuster has partnered with Able Australia and are calling on workplaces to donate old smartphones to support the deafblind community.

  • Smartphones collected during the initiative will be donated to Able Australia to improve the digital literacy of the deafblind community. The phones will be used to educate people on how to use speech recognition and Braille readers via mobile technology.

    Deafblindness is very much Australia’s forgotten disability. Able Australia tells us that nine out of ten deafblind people will experience depression and anxiety and the simple act of donating an unwanted phone is an easy way to show your support to Australia’s deafblind community. Unwanted smartphones play a vital link that can transform a socially isolated person with deafblindness into an active member of their local community. Something most of us take for granted.

    Mobile technology can also help people with deafblindness participate in the workforce. A report by Deloitte Access Economics commissioned by the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA) found that mobile technology allows people with deafblindness to communicate, engage and interact, thereby improving their daily lives and opportunities to participate in the workforce (2).

    Australia has over 31 million mobile phone subscribers who, on average, replace their handsets every 18 to 24 months. We know there are approximately 23 million unused mobiles sitting in homes and workplaces around Australia, some of these may be smartphones that could help the deafblind community. Now is the perfect time to donate your unwanted mobile phone to a great cause.

    Each smartphone will be checked to confirm it is working and any data left of the phone will be wiped to ensure privacy. MobileMuster will also ensure that any mobiles and accessories that can’t be reused will be recycled by MobileMuster in a safe, secure and ethical way, with all data being destroyed in the recycling process.

    This initiative will run for the month of September. MobileMuster will provide you with resources to support your participation. We have a Able Australia mailing label which you can simply download and attach to your package containing old smartphones and chargers.

    (1) Access Economics (2010), Making Sense: The economic impact of dual sensory impairment and multiple disabilities commission by Able Australia.

    (2) Deloitte Access Economics (2016), Mobile nation: Driving workforce participation and productivity commissioned by the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA).