Australia's love affair with mobile phones looks set to pay environmental dividends following the launch of a mobile handset recycling scheme.
Established by Planet Ark in conjunction with major mobile phone retail outlets, the scheme aims to recycle 500,000 handsets in the next 12 months.
Jon Dee, founder of Planet Ark, said it had already signed up 2,000 retail outlets to collect and pass on the phones, with Telstra, Optus and Vodafone shop-fronts leading the charge. Dee claims there are currently more than 10 million "defunct" mobile phones sitting idle throughout Australia, and Planet Ark hopes to recycle a large number of these as they're handed in for upgrade at mobile phone retail stores.
Although a AUS$0.40 (US$0.20) levy will be imposed on every new mobile handset sold in Australia in order to cover the cost of collection and recycling of the phones, Dee said this fee will barely be noticed by local consumers, as the charge has been in place for the past year to cover a trial run of the scheme.
The recycling of 50,000 mobile phones would produce around one and a half kilos of gold, as well as nickel, copper and plastic. --Cass Warneminde, ZDNet Australia