Why Apple Isn't Part Of MobileMuster

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?

Picture by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

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.


    Since Apple clearly operates on such small margins they probably could not afford to participate. Have to check their financial reporting I'm sure that must be their reasoning.

    That's a very long and drawn out way to say Apple are dicks.

      It's more the opposite, they have their own method of recycling than relying on third party.

        I think the way Apple does it isn't so much about responsible recycling and more about utilising the value of their products. They can use their own returned devices for parts, re-sell them on to other users with some minor repairs, or just use the return policy as a pretext to maintain customer involvement with them and encourage them to make more purchases.
        The other companies have wildly different business models so can't do this- for one, they don't directly sell their devices.

        Yes their "own" recycling program where they refurbished returned phones and give them out as warranty replacements.

    Reburbished Apple Store. That is all.

      Yes. So when your iPhone cracks its screen you pay them 120 bucks for someone's old returned one that gets refurbished...

    IIRC Apple add a 'recycling' charge into the price of all their products, so you can take it back to the shops and they will recycle it for you.

    R..I..G..H..T… I'm sure this is important. I've never bothered recycling iPhones. I've had two and just passed them down to the kids. Trouble is I've got too many kids and they argue, which one should get it first. There's just too much demand for the old iPhones, I think it'll be a while before I think it's an issue.


      All the old iPhones in my family get handed to down people who had/have dumb phones or kept as spares.

    Apple and RIM. So that'd be, um, two glaring exceptions then. Apple does their own recycling, what does RIM do (apart from bleed money)?

    Why on earth is this even a problem?

    All you need to do is head to google and type "recycle my mobile". Job done. You will find loads of people who will take an iphone off you. I did it through www.onbay.co.uk/recycle so who needs a specific cause when you can just hand your phone over to someone who will do the job for you?

    I don't have dependents so i'm lucky enough not to have to hand my phone over to someone else who might squabble over it. The two year upgrade period is a bit annoying, being contracted for that much time is hellish, but at the end of it I end up getting my money back that I had to put down on the phone in the first place and can then put that money towards the next phone (which in my case will be a samsung as i'm not waiting for another iphone).

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