Recycling scheme that helps reduce electronic waste

By D'Angelo Martin

A recycling scheme developed in support of International E-Waste Day is helping reduce the amount of discarded electronic waste in landfill sites. New Zealanders are being encouraged to turn in their old unwanted mobile phones so they can be refurbished reused or resold.

Kate Bunge who works at Swapkit recycling facility a recycling partner for re:Mobile says, "We've been recycling mobile phones now for over ten years and there is a lot of awareness out there now instead of putting them in the rubbish or taking them to the tip."

Bunge says it's a scheme put in place for the environment, "They've all got batteries inside them and eventually the toxic waste from them will enter into the landfill into the soil and eventually get into our waterways."

Geoff Thorn C.E.O of the Telecommunications Forum says, "The scheme itself collects and recycles and refurbishes mobile phones, the money that re: mobile gets goes to the charity which is Sustainable Coastlines."

Swapkit has refurbished, reused and resold over 740,000 mobile phones and saved over 31,000 Kilograms of used mobile phones that would otherwise have ended up as waste in landfill sites across New Zealand. 

Certain components and materials extracted from the mobiles will be reused for other items, such as the medals for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. 

"If the phones get reused or recycled that means that's less gold silver that needs to be mined in order to get the components for the phone," Thorn says.

Some of these phones will be on-sold into Hong Kong and third world countries. You can drop any phone to any 2degrees, Vodafone or Spark store, various schools and councils.