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Northern Valleys Waste Watcher – February

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Do you have a bunch of old mobile phones lying around? I did. Want to know how many broken, disused phones I was holding onto, for who-knows-what reason? 10! Some were more than 15 years old. I’m pretty sure I kept them because I knew I shouldn’t throw them out, but I wasn’t quite sure what to do with them or how hard it would be to recycle them. Turns out, not hard at all!

There are an estimated 31 million mobile devices active in Australia (that is more than one per person!) and approximately 23 million unused mobile phones hidden in our drawers and cupboards. Of those 5 million are broken and no longer working.
One of the easiest ways to minimise your mobile phone waste is not to upgrade the technology just for the sake of it. I have only ever replaced a mobile once my existing one was dead or dying. Don’t buy into the marketing hype or the calls from your telco offering you a new phone to sign your life over to them for another 2 years.

If you have an old phone in working order, consider selling it or passing it on to someone else. You can back up your information then perform a factory data reset on the device to ease any worries about strangers accessing your data. There are programs such as Boomerang and PhoneCycle that offer buyback schemes for old devices.
If your phone cannot be recovered, it’s time to recycle. Mobile phones are highly recyclable – over 95% of the resources in mobile phones can be recovered and returned to the supply chain. Recycling 50,000 mobiles can replace the need to mine 244 tonnes of precious metal ore.

They should definitely not be placed into a regular rubbish bin. Mobile phones and accessories contain concentrations of toxic heavy metals such as lead, nickel, mercury, arsenic, and copper that we do not want leeching into our environment in landfill sites.
When you buy a new phone, usually included in the package is a pre-paid satchel for Mobile Muster, Australia’s phone recycling program. It has 2 compartments, one for complete phones and one for batteries only. All batteries must be entirely wrapped in bubble wrap or similar, so they do not come into contact with anything during their journey. You simply pop it all in the bag and drop it in the post box. You can pick up the satchels at participating Australia Post outlets.

I estimate it took me less than an hour to locate all the old phones, back up and reset those that still had life in them and package up my satchel. It feels good to know that the clutter is gone and that all those raw materials will be used again.

Mobile Muster also has drop off locations, where you can place your old mobile into the designated recycling bin. Bindoon Post Office, Shire of Chittering office and Bullsbrook Public Library are some of the places in the Northern Valleys you can do this.