Mobile for a Meal Recycling program

A nationwide initiative encouraging people to recycle their old mobile phones is hoping to tackle the issues of waste and hunger at the same time.

Organisers of the Mobile for a Meal campaign have pledged that for every phone recycled this summer, a meal will be donated to somebody in need.

With an estimated 23 million disused mobile phones lying in people’s drawers around Australia, the program could have huge effects for the environment and the people it will benefit.

“The value comes from actually lessening the need to mine these precious metals [used in mobile phones],” MobileMuster manager Spyro Kalos said.

“[Meanwhile] the simple transaction of recycling a mobile phone can actually help by donating a meal to someone in the community who needs it.”

Close-up of man's hands holding a pile of mobile phones.

Tips for reducing food waste

  • Don’t over-purchase, shop more regularly
  • Don’t leave things at the back of the fridge to forget about
  • Avoid the two-for-one deals at the supermarket
  • Use all the trimmings from produce and meats; peelings and bones can be made into stock
  • Turn leftovers into a meal the next day

Source: OzHarvest chef Marion Casey

MobileMuster has teamed up with not-for-profit food rescue organisation OzHarvest to run the program.

Last year’s inaugural drive saw 60,000 mobiles collected, resulting in the same amount of free meals being delivered.

This year they’re aiming to reach 70,000 by the end of February.

Fiona Nearn, spokesperson for OzHarvest, estimated that more than three million Australians experienced food insecurity each year.

People cooking food in a kitchen.

She said the initiative’s rollout was also a timely reminder for people to be mindful about waste during the festive season.

“Half of food waste comes from homes and this is the most abundant time of year.”

Bowls and baking dish with presented food.

What happens with the recycled phones?

Mr Kalos said the returned phones were destroyed and 99 per cent of the recycled materials were reused.

He also wanted to ensure donors there would be no issues with personal data security.

“We never sell or reuse anything that we collect and that’s why it’s safe and secure,” he said.

While the industry-funded recycle scheme has drop-off points all around the country, he urged consumers to do their part to ensure the program worked.

“As consumers we have a responsibility that when we no longer need a product that we’re recycling it responsibly.”