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TCF delighted with approval of mobile recycling scheme

TCF delighted with Government approval of mobile recycling scheme

The New Zealand Telecommunications Forum (TCF) is delighted Minister for the Environment Amy Adams has approved its industry mobile recycling programme as an accredited Product Stewardship Scheme.

TCF outgoing Chief Executive David Stone says the scheme – known as RE:MOBILE is the first e-waste recycling programme in the country to achieve Government accreditation.

“This Government seal of approval of our programme is proof that it has met its environmental requirements for accreditation. Now anyone who wants to recycle their phone knows that they are using an approved scheme,” he says.

Research released today in to New Zealander’s attitudes to recycling shows that one in four kiwis still do not know where to take unwanted phones or even know that they could be recycled (see survey results).

“We hope that people will be encouraged to bring in their unwanted phones to Vodafone, Telecom and 2degrees stores around the country following the Government endorsement of this programme. Over 70% of kiwis have at least one unconnected mobile in their house, this tells us that there are many phones still lying around in people’s homes,” he says.

In 2010, the TCF brought together mobile operators Vodafone, Telecom and 2degrees in a collaborative partnership and the recycling programme was established. All three mobile companies offer recycling drop-in bins and recycling envelopes at their stores.

RE:MOBILE accepts mobile phones, mobile data devices and accessories. “We are looking to extend the capability of the programme, so watch this space,” says Stone.

In Product Stewardship Schemes, parties involved in the life of a product take on responsibility for the environmental effects of their products – from the time they are produced until they are disposed of.

To gain accreditation, the TCF has agreed to key targets to reduce the number of phones going to landfill and to further encourage consumers to drop their old phones into their nearest store to ensure they get recycled.

Under the programme, around 80% of phones passed on for recycling are refurbished and resold elsewhere in the world, reducing the demand for new handsets and associated environmental impacts of their manufacture.

The other 20% are deconstructed, commoditised and their component material is recovered with a better than 95% recycling rate.

By providing this form of environmentally responsible recycling, Stone says, the scheme diverts the phones and accessories away from landfill and recovers reusable material that can be used to create other products.

Scheme recycling agent Swapkit New Zealand collects and sorts the phones into those which can be used and those which are end of life. Reusable phones are sold by tender overseas, and end-of-life phones are sent to Sims Recycling Solutions and Zero Waste NZ for breakdown and recovery of component materials.

Swapkit New Zealand manager Kate Bunge says she is thrilled the government has granted accreditation to RE:MOBILE.

“This government endorsement of the programme is a win for a great scheme which helps prevent hazardous toxins from entering the environment,” she says.

A percentage of the profits from the programme go to the Starship Foundation to support Starship National Children’s Hospital and the Starship National Air Ambulance Service.

To date, the programme has collected 900,000 phones and donated $2.3 million to the Starship Foundation.


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