There are approximately 22.3 million unused mobile phones in Australian households, according to recent research by Ipsos for the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA).

The environmental impact of these unused devices either sitting in drawers or being thrown into landfill, is enormous. Each phone contains valuable components, including glass, aluminium, lithium, and plastic, which can be recycled into other products, reducing future greenhouse emissions, and decreasing the need to further mine and process these materials for new phones.

Free national, not-for-profit recycling program, MobileMuster offers an effective solution to this problem, enabling consumers to recycle their unused, old, or broken mobile phones via one of its 3,000+ collection sites or through its free prepaid post-bag option.

The program, which is the only voluntary government accredited electronic product stewardship scheme in Australia, has been running for 25 years, and is voluntarily funded by the Australian telecommunications industry with 96.7% of mobile phone manufacturers and 90% of mobile phone carriers in Australia voluntarily participating in the program.

Since first achieving government accreditation in 2014, MobileMuster has recycled 2,000 tonnes of e-waste and diverted 96% of donated materials away from landfill.

Currently, the Australian government has a consultation process open to discuss a proposed regulatory scheme to reduce waste from small electrical products.

AMTA’s position is that MobileMuster’s industry-led program means that a regulatory scheme for small electronics is unnecessary. MobileMuster expanded its program in 2022 to also include recycling options for modems, routers, streaming devices, wearables, smart home devices and other small electrical products.

“MobileMuster demonstrates what can be achieved when industry works together, with our free recycling scheme recovering and repurposing 99% of glass, plastic, and metal materials used in mobile phones, batteries, chargers, modems, and smart devices,” the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA) CEO, Louise Hyland said.

“While participation in the scheme is entirely voluntary, MobileMuster currently has 96.7% of mobile phone manufacturers and 90% of mobile phone carriers participating, with its success built around shared responsibility from industry participants.

“Through partnerships with some of Australia’s biggest retailers including Officeworks, Woolworths, Australia Post, Telstra, Vodafone, Optus, Apple and Samsung, 96% of the country’s population is within 10km of a MobileMuster drop-off site, making it easy and accessible for consumers to recycle their mobile phones and other small electronic devices.

“MobileMuster’s government-accredited program stands as a shining example of an industry-led, not-for-profit product stewardship scheme that is entirely voluntary, demonstrating the positive impact of shared responsibility and collaboration.”