Mobile Phone & Printer Cartridge Waste

Old mobile phones

Mobile phones consist of a wide range of metals, as well as plastics, glass and hazardous substances like brominated flame retardants. Printer cartridges are made of plastics, metals, foam, paper, nylon, rubber, ink and toner. The most common types used in homes and businesses are toner cartridges (used in laser printers) and ink cartridges (used in inkjet printers).

The Problem

It is estimated that there are more than 23 million old and unwanted mobile phones in homes and offices around Australia.

  • Both mobile phones and printer cartridges have environmental and ethical impacts, and their production requires significant resources, including oil, water and energy.
  • Australians throw away millions of printer cartridges every year and each cartridge takes up to 450 to 1000 years to decompose.

The Revolution

Layne recycling a printer cartridge

Between 2003 and 2013 ‘Cartridges 4 Planet Ark' diverted more than 22.7 million cartridges from landfill

  • In Australia, the mobile phone and printer cartridge revolutions began with the introduction of voluntary extended producer responsibility programs for both products.
  • Recycling just 50,000 mobile handsets can save 110 tonnes of gold ore, 213 tonnes of silver bearing ore and 11 tonnes of copper sulphide ore from being mined (100). MobileMuster has recycled 7.7 million handsets and batteries and 544 tonnes of accessories, which is the equivalent greenhouse gas emissions of taking 2,300 cars of the road permanently.
  • Cartridges can be recycled into pens, rulers and a timber-replacement product, eWoodTM, which is used to make outdoor furniture, fencing, recycling bins and garden beds.

Join the Revolution! 

recycle phones recycle cartridges

  • Gather those old mobile phones and accessories lying around your home or office and take them to one of 4,000 drop-off points across Australia. Visit MobileMuster to find your nearest drop off point. You can also pick up a reply paid satchel from your local Australia Post outlet, (or download a reply paid label from the MobileMuster website), and post your old phones and accessories to MobileMuster.
  • An even better environmental option is to extend the life of your phone by upgrading less often or passing your unwanted phones onto family members or friends.
  • To recycle used or unwanted printer cartridges, place participating brands of cartridges (Brother, Canon, HP, Epson, Konica Minolta and Kyocera) in a ‘Cartridges 4 Planet Ark' collection box in all Officeworks stores, and participating Australia Post, Harvey Norman,  JB Hi-Fi, The Good Guys, Office National and Office Products Depot outlets. Visit RecyclingNearYou or call 1800 24 24 73 to find your nearest outlet.
  • If your workplace uses more than three cartridges a month, it may be eligible for a free ‘Cartridges 4 Planet Ark' collection box. Visit ‘Cartridges 4 Planet Ark' to find out more. Alternatively, visit BusinessRecycling and search under Electrical Equipment to find companies offering printer cartridge collection services.

You can download the full Recycling Revolution Report below.