Mobile Mustering

One of the few thing I picked up yesterday were some Mobile Muster satchels used to recycle mobile phones.  In Australia we have a scheme run by the Australian Mobile Phone Industry which is free of charge to consumers.   I did a bit of research and found this info from the Mobile Muster site to share with you;

Mobilemuster is the only whole of industry led electronic product recycling program in the world.  It is funded voluntarily by handset manufacturers Nokia, Motorola, Samsung Electronics Australia, Sony Ericsson, LG Electornics, Sharp, NEC, Panasonic, i-Mate, battery distributors Force Technology and mobile phone network service providers Telstra, Optus, Vodafone, 3 Mobile, Virgin Mobile and AAPT.  Each pay an advance recycling levy raising 42 cents for every handset they import into Australia.

What can be recycled
Over 90% of the materials in mobile phones can be recovered and used as raw materials for new products.

  • Batteries include nickel to make stainless steel and cobalt and cadmium to make new batteries.
  • Circuit boards include small amounts of gold and silver that is used in jewellery and other applications.
  • Handset housings and casings include plastics that are shredded and used to make fence posts and pallets.
  • Accessories include plastics and metals that are shredded, sorted and then used to make new plastic or metal products.

Mining versus recycling
One tonne of mobile phone circuit boards can yield the same amount of precious metals as 110 tonnes of gold ore. 123 tonnes of silver bearing ore and 11 tonnes of copper sulphide ore.  See what the materials from old mobiles can be turned into.

Why recycle?

  • prevent pollution and protect our environment
  • minimise solid and hazardous waste going to landfill
  • recover resources to manufacture new products
  • reduce the need to use raw materials and save our natural resources

Number of collection/drop off points
Over 3,500 collection points Australia wide including

  • Nokia Care and Motorola One Service Centres
  • Mobile Phone Retailers – Telstra, Optus, Vodafone, 3 Mobile, Virgin Mobile, Crazy Johns, Fone Zone, Allphones, Dick Smiths and Harvey Normans
  • Cartridge World stores
  • Battery World stores
  • Almost 300 local councils
  • participating ANZ and Sydney Credit Union branches

Click here to find your nearest collection point.

Recycle by post
Free recycling satchels are now available from participating Australia Post outlets nationwide. Alternatively you can download a reply paid mailing labelling.

Convinced?  I certainly was, and was guilty of having more than one old handset laying around in drawers.  At least I had the common sense not to throw them into landfill.

So here are the phones and the recycling satchel that I picked up.  You can only put one phone and related accessories into one satchel.

 After about 2 minutes work, here they all are ready to post tomorrow.

I was gob-smacked when I found out that there are 21.2 million subscribers in Australia (June 2009).  So that is roughly one phone for every man, woman and child in this country!  There were approximately 7.86 million handset imported into the country last year, with only 806,000 were recycled last year, and to make matters worse, the average user upgrades handsets every 18-24 months.  There must be so many handsets either thrown into landfill or squirreled away in drawers, forgotten and collecting dust. 

So round up your old handsets, take them to a collection point, or get a satchel from your participating Australia Post office.  Not only will you be avoiding potentially hazardous landfill, but you will be saving resources and preventing habit loss from the mining of the minerals required for the phone components.

Win win all around, and it is FREE.  It doesn’t get much better than that.


  1. BJ says

    Thanks for this information, Gavin!

    How timely – i heard last week on the news that Australians are hanging onto old mobile phones for up to 10 years because they don’t know what to do with them.

    And I confess that we have about 4 phones in the drawer, too.

    But not for long 😉
    I’m off to Australia Post in the morning.


  2. caq says

    Very informative post!

    I agree that mobile phone recycling is a great way of helping the environment in our own little way. And on top of that when you can earn a bit of cash, it doesn’t hurt at all.

    I have recently sold my old Nokia and Sony Ericsson handsets at

    They offered me some great deals. Got some cash for handsets which I no longer use and at the same time, I also ‘recycled’ my handsets instead of throwing them in the bin.

  3. says

    The school my kids attend did a mobile muster last year, as a fundraiser to donate to the Victoria Bushfire relief fund. I asked around at work & got extras from my colleagues to send in as well.

  4. says


    Thanks for mentioning MobileMuster and your immediate response – I was manning the stand for the three days of the Festival and certainly had a great deal of interest in the program from visitors.

    I had a few questions about the gorilla / coltan issue – your readers might like to check out our response as there have been some misleading statements made in recent times..

    John Bain

  5. says

    Thanks Gavin for the info. I have 3 mobiles from the past 5 years (my husband seems to go through a lot via his business) that were waiting to be recycled… and now I know how to do it! xo m.

  6. says

    I did not know that. I know that we have issues with recycling techonology (computers and such and I just assumed Cell phone fit that bill). I can however say in the last 15 years I have only had 3 cell phones. The first I had for 10+ years and was forced to change when they went digital. The second didn’t last quite as long and I am on my third.
    Here in the states many schools recycle cell phones and other technology as fundraisers. Families drop off old computers, cell phones and such and the school boxes it up, ships it out and gets paid.

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