New Zealanders are being encouraged to recycle their unwanted mobile phones with RE:MOBILE in support of International E-Waste Day.

Monday 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. New Zealand alone produces an estimated 98,000 tonnes of e-waste each year.

“Mobile phones are one of the most frequently upgraded electronics,” said Geoff Thorn, CEO of the New Zealand Telecommunications Forum (TCF) which manages RE:MOBILE.

“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.

“The best way to dispose of them is to recycle them with RE:MOBILE. 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 percent of the materials in the mobile phone being reused.”

Mobile phones and other electronic items pose environmental risks if they end up in landfill. The lithium ion batteries could cause fires if they are crushed, and the devices may leach hazardous materials as they break down.

In addition to this, mobile phones 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 money is donated to New Zealand charity Sustainable  Coastlines to help them look after New Zealand’s coastlines and waterways.

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.

“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,” said Thorn.

“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, Noel Leeming or Resene retail store. They can also be posted to the RE:MOBILE freepost address.

RE:MOBILE has collected over 470,000 mobile phones since 2014.