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November 30, 2022

From Spyro’s desk

As I reflect on the year that’s been, I feel immensely proud of MobileMuster’s achievements and the resilience of the program. Australia, like the rest of the world, continues to navigate our new norm and these last few years have no doubt been challenging for businesses and communities. Yet, through it all, our stakeholders continue to back the program and their own circular ambitions.

It is in large part due to the support of our members and collection partners that in FY22, we not only met the KPIs set by the federal government as part of our accreditation under the Recycling and Waste Reduction Act 2020, but we also blew many of these out of the water. MobileMuster’s FY22 achievements can be found in our annual report.

Notably, we collected 109t of mobile phones and accessories, achieved a collection rate of 62.5%, diverted 96.2% from landfill, and met a recycling rate of 99%. We also expanded the range of products collected for recycling, which now includes modems, home phones, TV streaming devices, smart speakers and digital hubs, smart watches, smart pens, tracking tags, and VR headsets. But the expansion is not without its challenges. There is still some way to go in getting all manufacturers and distributors of these products to join their counterparts – the early movers – at the table. We need them to be part of the solution and take ownership of their products once they reach end-of-life; this is what product stewardship is and what sustainable material management should be – a shared responsibility for the full lifecycle of the products we make, consume, and dispose of.

While FY22 was a year of growth for MobileMuster in many respects, it was also a year of change for Australia more broadly. We saw a new government and we are starting to notice positive shifts in product stewardship and material management. At the end of October, federal, state, and territory environment ministers met for the first time in 18 months and committed to strengthening product stewardship schemes – amongst a number of other waste and recycling commitments, with electronic products a stream of focus. Shortly after, the federal environment minister released her priority list for the year, with electrical and electronic products maintaining its spot since it was first listed in 2016-17. MobileMuster has a firm place at the table, and continues to engage with the Department as it progresses its product stewardship efforts.

With more tangible actions laid out by ministers in 2022, I am optimistic that we will start to see green shoots of change appear in 2023, as together, we seek out solutions that effectively mitigate carbon emissions and improve material management. This could be through considered product design, more efficient production and distribution, greater reuse, repair and refurbishment opportunities, or improved recycling.

We envision a year of action in 2023 as MobileMuster remains committed to closing the loop on mobile phones and accessories, and other e-waste that aligns with our industry. After all, with 26 million unused phones currently in storage across Australia, a significant push is required to encourage Australians to bring in their devices so that we may reap the many environmental benefits that come with reuse and recycling. To that end, the team has every intention to continue elevating the program and some of the initiatives to look forward to in 2023 include snazzy new collection units for all our Optus, Vodafone, and Telstra stores, a refreshed website that will provide a range of resources and information, as well as strengthened partnerships with charities to close the digital divide and support marginalised communities in Australia.

It has been a productive year and we look forward to working with you in 2023. Till then, on behalf of the MobileMuster team, we wish you all a wonderful Christmas and New Year.

Spyro Kalos
Head of MobileMuster