FutureFive NZ - Dead phones raise millions for Starship

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Dead phones raise millions for Starship

The Starship Mobile Phone Appeal has collected more than one million mobile phones and has raised more than $2.3 million for the Starship National Air Ambulance Service.

Kate Bunge, director of Swapkit NZ, says it is incredible to think about how far the Starship Mobile Phone Appeal has come. “Just over five years ago the appeal began in a shed and there was scepticism around the commercial sustainability of recycling mobile phones with a share of the profit going to charity,” she says. “Swapkit NZ in partnership with the Starship Foundation has proven that this business model is extremely successful.”

The Starship Mobile Phone Appeal is a partnership between Swapkit NZ Ltd and the Starship Foundation with the sole purpose of collecting unwanted mobile phones which are then on sold to raise funds for the Starship National Air Ambulance Service.

Swapkit NZ is engaged in the recycle of mobile handsets and other mobile data related devices.
Swapkit is the chosen Mobile Phone Recycle Partner to the New Zealand Government approved ‘RE:MOBILE’ scheme.

One million phones translates into about 150 tons of waste material that has been diverted from landfills, says Bunge. Swapkit has developed strong environmental credentials, and as the recycling partner for RE:MOBILE, it is the only government accredited phone recycling programme in the country. It is also the first e-waste product stewardship scheme in New Zealand.

“Consumers will not see a lot of difference with RE:MOBILE in the market,” Bunge says. “They will still see the familiar Starship Mobile Phone Appeal and phones can continue to be dropped to any Vodafone, Spark or 2degrees store.”

“The popular schools phone swap programme will also continue. But under the hood, the engine is now RE:MOBILE. It’s the green tick to tell users that the programme has met the environmental requirements of our Government and has its approval.

“Just like the warrant of fitness for your car, it gives you confidence that under the bonnet everything is happening right,” Bunge says.

RE:MOBILE starts with the waste hierarchy (reduce, reuse, recycle) – reuse first, recycle only when it can’t be reused. With that in mind about 20% of phones received have reached the end of their useful life. These are deconstructed, as are all the accessories received, and the component materials recycled.

Those phones that can still be used are sold by tender to off-shore businesses that specialise in the resale of second hand mobile phones. They are refurbished and sold as low cost handsets to places like Africa and Asia. A percentage of the profits from the sale of the phones is donated to the Starship Foundation and helps fund the Starship National Air Ambulance Service.

Brad Clark, Starship Foundation chief executive, says “since inception the Starship Mobile Phone Appeal has made a significant contribution to the $1.5 million per annum Starship Foundation provides to the Starship National Air Ambulance Service that has saved the lives of many critically ill or injured young New Zealanders”.

He says “one million phones donated is a significant milestone for Starship kids and we are proud to partner with Swapkit in this life-saving venture.”

Regardless of condition, make or model, all mobile phones are accepted by the Starship Mobile Phone Appeal. Phones can be dropped into any Spark, Vodafone or 2degrees store where they are passed on to the Starship Mobile Phone Appeal.

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