Universities around New Zealand are joining in a pilot scheme to collect old mobile phones during “Clean Up New Zealand Week” with the help of mobile operators Telecom New Zealand and Vodafone New Zealand.
The week long pilot happens from 8 untill 16 September and includes Auckland, Waikato, Massey and Victoria universities and Otago Polytechnic. The univiersities take part in the pilot by encouraging staff and students to deposit their old handsets and accessories in secure collection bins.
The phones will be refurbished for reuse by people in other countries or international relief agencies, or will be recycled. The recycled plastics can be used to make things like traffic cones, bin liners or buckets and metals like copper, platinum and silver can be reused in jewellery, batteries, copper pipes, or even new mobiles.
Earlier this year, Telecom, Vodafone and the Ministry for the Environment said they would work together to increase the number of old mobiles collected for recycling to prevent them from going to landfill.
“We estimate there are around a million unused mobiles in New Zealand, probably sitting in people’s drawers or boxes at home,” says Vodafone spokesman Raphael Hilbron. “Collecting these unused phones is not just the right thing to do for the environment – someone else in another part of the world could be benefiting from the phones."
Mr Hilbron said Vodafone had collected approximately 150,000 phones over the past four or five years, saving the phones from landfill and in some cases reselling them to customers in other countries.
Telecom’s Environmental Manager Steve Kerr said the company encourages customers to hand in old mobiles and accessories at their local Telecom retail store where there are clearly marked recycling bins.
Telecom provides its mobile phone collection scheme in all Telecom, Orb, or Leading Edge retail stores where they have clearly marked recycling bins.
Vodafone provides collection bins in its retails stores as well as a freepost service: Vodafone Handset Recycling Programme, Private Bag 92222, Auckland Mail Centre.