It is always hard to say goodbye even when we are saying it to an old smartphone. Australians like people all over the world are holding on to their old phones for much longer instead of having them refurbished or recycled. This has consequences on the environment. Nearly half of Australians intend to recycle their devices but only one in ten actually follow through according to the latest research from MobileMunster which is a mobile phone recycling program accredited by the Australian Government.
23 million phones collecting dust
MobileMunster reckons there are as many as 23 million unused mobile phones sitting in drawers or cupboards throughout Australian and approximately 5 million devices are likely defunct. If smartphones are collecting dust, it means thankfully they aren’t ending up in landfill but there is a large opportunity cost if they are not recycled. There is value that can be extracted from old smartphones reducing the requirement to mine virgin materials.
99 per cent of a smartphone can be recycled
MobileMunster collected 90 tonnes of mobile phones and accessories last year which is just a small fraction of the e-waste out there. Australia’s e-waste has blown up over the last few years but the good news is that 99 per cent of materials that make up a smartphone can be recovered in their raw form and used again. They can re-enter the supply chain and used to make new products. This is true for most kinds of e-waste. Very few Australians lease their phone or trade in old devices when they get a new one compared to other markets. Because people prize their smartphones, and they are expensive, older devices tend to get stashed away rather than recycled or refurbished.
Consumers starting to become more aware
Consumers are starting to become more aware of the environmental impact of the waste they generate and MobileMunster is hoping to capitalise on that by partnering with non-profits and donating any money made from recycling mobile phones during January and February to Take 3 For the Sea. More than thirty per cent of people who hoard smartphones are worried by the amount of personal data left on their old devices. This uncertainly is why many opt not to recycle, but there are plenty of guides on the internet that will show consumers how to properly wipe their iOS and Android devices. When a phone is recycled any data that is left on the device gets destroyed during the recycling process anyway.
Easy to recycle
Avoid chucking broken electronics in the bin because they contain plenty of hazardous materials that when dumped into landfill or stored inappropriately could end up releasing hazardous materials and toxins into the air, soil and waterways. There are drop-off points at all the major telecoms company stores across all of Australia, plus an additional 3,500 points where phones can be deposited for free. You can also pick up a free sachet from Australia Post and mail in an old device for no charge.