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Telco industry urges New Zealanders to recycle unwanted mobile phones

The New Zealand Telecommunications Forum is encouraging New Zealanders to rummage through their household drawers and recycle their old mobile phones as Recycling Week NZ kicks off.

The TCF manages the nationwide not-for-profit mobile phone recycling scheme RE:MOBILE that is supported by 2degrees, Spark and Vodafone.  

“While most of us are in the habit of recycling our bottles, cans, plastic and paper, when it comes to other less conventional waste streams (and in particular e-waste), people may still be unaware that there are environmentally responsible disposal options available to them,” says Geoff Thorn, TCF CEO.

“There’s no reason these days mobile phones should end up in landfill (where they pose environmental risks). RE:MOBILE is accessible to all New Zealanders and we urge Kiwis to take the time out in Recycling Week to do a spring clean out of your drawers ... it’s likely you’ll find an old unwanted phone or two," he says.

Thorn suspects there may be hundreds of thousands of discarded mobile phones sitting around in people’s homes.

 “It’s all too easy to shove an old phone into a drawer to keep as a ‘just in case’ spare, but often it will never be used again," he says.

RE:MOBILE works alongside its charity partner Sustainable Coastlines. More than 548,000 mobile phones have been donated since the RE:MOBILE scheme was accredited in 2014.

"For every phone that is received today, money is donated to Sustainable Coastlines - a charity which works to protect New Zealand’s waterways and coastlines. The scheme has donated over $152,000 to Sustainable Coastlines since we established this relationship in 2016," says Thorn.

“The funding that we have received to date has enabled us to plant over 14,600 trees in waterway regeneration projects across New Zealand. These plants act as a buffer zone for the surrounding land, helping to soak up pollution, provide the necessary habitats for native animals, prevent excessive nutrient runoff and sequester carbon," said Stephanie Vercoe, Sustainable Coastlines Strategic Partnerships Director.

The RE:MOBILE scheme is free of charge, easy for consumers to access and will take any mobile phone, regardless of condition. Consumers can take their unwanted phones to any 2degrees, Spark, Vodafone or Noel Leeming retail stores along with other drop off locations. If preferred, there is also the option to post to a freepost address.

Phones collected by RE:MOBILE are completely cleaned of any data and either refurbished and on-sold (extending the life of the phone) or are dismantled and recycled for parts. Over 95 percent of the materials in the phone are able to be recycled.