News, Opinion

MobileMuster set to add growing e-waste product streams


MobileMuster has announced the planned expansion of its leading product stewardship program, broadening their recycling capability to include three new, growing e-waste product streams.

The expansion of the charter reflects MobileMuster’s aim of playing a genuine product stewardship role to create a more sustainable circular economy, alongside the changing nature of the challenge related to electronic waste as an increasingly diverse range of products enter the Australian market as technology evolves.

The new product streams cover network connectivity (i.e. modems and routers, landline phones etc.), smart home technology (i.e. smart speakers, smart digital hub displays), and wearables and peripherals (i.e. smart watches, tracking tags, VR headsets).

Run by the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA), MobileMuster is the only voluntary government accredited electronic product stewardship scheme in Australia and provides a complete e-waste solution to address the environmental, health and safety impacts of telecommunication products across their full life cycle.

Independent research conducted on behalf of AMTA found that for every 1.6 modems in use in Australia, there is 1 being stored and not in use, and for every 2.1 smart devices in use, there is 1 being stored and not in use. In total, that is over 20.1 million devices in line with the new product streams stored in homes across the country.

Spyro Kalos, Head of MobileMuster, said, “In the last ten years, the rate of e-waste generated each year in Australia has more than doubled. AMTA and its members support a voluntary approach to product stewardship, and the MobileMuster program has demonstrated how industry can successfully work together to deliver effective, measurable social and environmental outcomes.”

The recent E-Product Stewardship in Australia Report, produced for the Department of Agriculture, Water, and the Environment, found that in 2019, 975,000 tonnes of e-products were estimated to have entered the Australian market, while 521,000 tonnes of e-waste were generated, equating to 20.4kg of e-waste on a per capita basis.

The report estimates that in 2030, approximately 12 million tonnes of e-products will be in use, about 12.3 times the amount of product entering the market, while 674,000 tonnes of e-waste will be generated.

“We applaud MobileMuster for working with industry to outline a pathway for product stewardship and for bringing the best available electronic waste program to consumers in Australia to help limit waste across the nation,” The Hon Trevor Evans MP Assistant Minister for Waste Reduction and Environmental Management said.

“Members of MobileMuster demonstrate a commitment to the sustainable stewardship of electronic waste on the part of these manufacturers and vendors. Such involvement enhances the reputation of all involved and sends a strong signal to consumers that these companies are taking responsibility for the environmental impacts their products can have if disposed of incorrectly,” the Minister concluded.

As part of the announcement AMTA has confirmed that Technicolor is the first modem manufacturer to confirm their participation in the expanded scheme, with more businesses expected to join in the coming months as the launch date is set for 1 July 2022.

“Since our program started over 23 years ago, we have facilitated the collection and recycling of more than 1,600 tonnes of mobiles and accessories. We have achieved over 95% resource recovery through recycling, and 73 per cent  awareness of mobile phone recycling.

“We have made mobile phone recycling accessible to all Australians, with 96 per cent of the Australian population within 10kms of a MobileMuster recycling location and look to make recycling more products just as easy and accessible,” Kalos said.

“With the amount of electronic waste sitting in people’s drawers, MobileMuster is looking to change the way Australians looks at waste more broadly, protect the environment, and ensure effective recycling strategies are in place to meet future industry demand for new products. This expansion shows we are continuing to deliver on that promise,” he concluded.

MobileMuster is an industry led scheme which is currently funded by all the major handset manufacturers and network carriers including Optus, Telstra and TPG Telecom (Vodafone). AMTA looks forward to continuing the success of the MobileMuster scheme through the expansion of the program.