Today, 14 October, is the second annual International E-Waste Day and Re:Mobile, New Zealand’s only accredited mobile phone recycling scheme, is urging Kiwis to recycle their unwanted mobile phones in order to benefit the environment and raise money for Sustainable Coastlines.
E-waste is a growing issue, with an estimated 50 million tonnes of e-waste generated globally in 2018, says Geoff Thorn, CEO of the New Zealand Telecommunications Forum (TCF) which manages Re:Mobile.
Thorn says New Zealand alone produces an estimated 98,000 tonnes of e-waste each year.
“Mobile phones are one of the most frequently upgraded electronics,” says Thorn, in a statement.
“Sixty-nine percent of New Zealand households have at least one unconnected mobile phone.”
This means there are over 1.2 million unconnected mobile phones in New Zealand that people have stashed away in their homes, potentially because they’re not sure what to do with them.
He says that when mobile phones are recycled with Re:Mobile they are either refurbished and on-sold to extend the life of the phone, or recycled for parts, with over 95 per cent of the materials in the mobile phone being reused.”
Mobile phones and other electronic items pose environmental risks if they end up in landfills. The lithium ion batteries could cause fires if they are crushed, and the devices may leach hazardous materials as they break down.
Mobile phones are now the remote controls of people’s lives, which means they contain a lot more personal information than they used to. Because of this, people can be reluctant to get rid of them when they get a new one, even if they are not using them Geoff Thorn, NZ Telecommunications Forum
Mobile phones also contain precious resources such as silver and gold which go to waste if the phones are not recycled. The materials can be extracted and reused to make other items, such as the medals for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
For every phone recycled with Re:Mobile, a donation will be made to New Zealand charity Sustainable Coastlines.
One of the reasons that people hold on to their old mobile phones is because they contain personal data, however, Re:Mobile ensures all data is removed from the phone before it is refurbished, says Thorn.
“Mobile phones are now the remote controls of people’s lives, which means they contain a lot more personal information than they used to. Because of this, people can be reluctant to get rid of them when they get a new one, even if they are not using them.”
He says every smartphone that is recycled with Re:Mobile is wiped using Mobicode software to ensure all personal information is destroyed. However, for people’s own peace of mind, we encourage them to perform a factory reset on their phones before they recycle them.
Mobile phones can be recycled with Re:Mobile by dropping them off to one of the 400 collection locations around the country, including any 2degrees, Spark, Vodafone or Noel Leeming stores. They can also be posted to the Re:Mobile freepost address.
Re:Mobile says it has recycled over 470,000 mobile phones since 2014.