The national MobileMuster scheme is one of the best ways to recycle your mobile phone, and has been hugely successful; so far, it has stopped nearly 7 million unwanted phones from being sent to landfill. The scheme is funded by a levy on manufacturers, and almost all the major players in Australia take part, with one really glaring exception: Apple. What gives?
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Amongst the prominent manufacturers who sell in Australia, Apple and RIM are the only companies not participating in MobileMuster. Given Apple's much larger market share, its absence is rather more noticeable. Prior to the launch of the iPhone, MobileMuster's member companies accounted for 90 per cent of phones sold into the local market. These days, in a post-Apple environment, that figure is close to 60 per cent.
Rose Read, manager of recycling for the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association, which runs the scheme, said Apple was invited to join the scheme when the iPhone first launched in Australia, but the company declined. Despite that, she's keen to emphasise it's not an adversarial situation. "We have a very positive relationship with the staff at Apple," Read said, noting that the company shared data on its own recycling programs with MobileMuster.
Apple has its own scheme for recycling unwanted gear. You can take an old iPod into a store and get 10 per cent off a new one, or send in an unwanted iPhone post-free . MobileMuster itself will happily accept iPhones via its own scheme (available at 4,500 outlets as well as through a freepost scheme) as well.
The phones may be getting recycled regardless, but there's little doubt that Apple signing up to the national scheme would improve its prominence. "In terms of sharing the costs and raising the profile of the program even further, they would make a big difference," Read said.
It seems another example of Apple not wanting to be part of broader industry initiatives. Members of MobileMuster pay 30 cents per phone to fund the scheme, which might be the killer factor; perhaps Apple figures it can recycle more cheaply on its own.
If you have an old phone you want to get rid of, check out our guide to your options, including reselling and recycling.