From Pocket to Planet: The story of the Great Mobile Phone Muster

By Emma Lucey 15 February 2024

It’s often the advice from those we’re closest to that leaves the greatest impression. Imagine a father determined to pass on his wisdom to the next generation of recyclers. What might he say about mobile phones in particular?

In a sleepy suburb not too far from town, where the scent of eucalyptus leaves is carried along the breeze, a son finds himself seated at the kitchen table. With anticipation, he unfolds a letter, revealing the distinctive handwriting of his father – a farmer with calloused hands and a heart as vast as the outback. The letter bears advice, not about herding livestock or tending the land, but about something unexpected: the Great Mobile Phone Muster.

G’day son, 

  I hope you’re wrangling the challenges of the new year with grit and determination. There’s something I’ve been pondering, and I reckon it’s high time we tackled it together. 

  In this age of gadgets and gizmos, I’ve been thinking about the legacy we leave behind. Just like we pass down our heritage, we’ve got to pass down a country that’s been looked after. Everyone knows that recycling is the right thing to do for the environment. But did you know there’s a real stockpile of mobile phones gathering dust in Aussie homes? It’s estimated there’s over 22 million! I couldn’t believe it when I heard.  

Now I would hope that people would pass on working phones to friends and family, or even donate them to others less fortunate. But the experts reckon over thirteen million of those are broken or unusable just sitting in a drawer  - what a waste. Those idle phones are full of untapped resources, just waiting to be recovered through recycling.   

Let me tell you about a scheme called MobileMuster. The bunch behind the program have been at it for 25 years, rounding up old phones and giving them a second chance. They’ve done some impressive mustering, recycling over 16 million phones so far. The emissions they have saved by recycling all the materials in those phones instead of mining new stuff is equivalent to planting more than 80,000 trees – can you believe that son? It’s a voluntary, not-for-profit, and carbon-neutral program that even got the thumbs up from the federal government.  

You can be a part of this good cause by rounding up all the old phones in the house and telling your mates to do the same. Then take them down to one of the 3,000+ MobileMuster drop-off points around the country including your local Optus, Telstra, Vodafone stores, or even the town library might have one! The best way to find out is to head on over to Recycling Near You ( If those old boots of yours are too worn for a walk, you can grab a pre-paid satchel from your local Australia Post and post your phones in for free.  

‘What about all my old messages to the ex?’; I hear you say. Well here’s the thing about security – MobileMuster has you covered. How mobile phone recycling works is, once they get those phones, they wipe any data, dismantle them and sort out the bits and pieces – metal, glass, plastics and batteries. Each part gets a fair go at another life after shredding, crushing, heating and smelting. 

We ain’t alone in this, son. There are eco-cowboys and cowgirls all around the country, mustering up their old phones to be put to good use again. Let’s be part of something bigger, contributing to a sustainable balance between consumption and reuse. We’ve gotta do our part, son. The number of mobile phones in storage has grown over the past 15 years in Australia, and we can’t let them sit there like a herd of sheep without a shepherd. Join me in the Great Mobile Phone Muster! It’s our way of giving back to this land we love.    

Looking forward to riding alongside you in this eco-adventure.   

Yours in the dust & sunshine, 



As the son immerses himself in the words from his father, he’s excited by the prospect of the journey of recycling old phones, guided by the wisdom of a father who sees beyond the horizon. This letter carries the timeless call to responsibility and care for the land they call home.  

To find out more about the MobileMuster program, visit  

Emma Lucey
Emma brings experience in digital media and communications with a background in several industries such as tourism and hospitality. Prior to joining Planet Ark in 2022, Emma spent 5 years living abroad in London & Amsterdam where she developed a greater interest in the environment and sustainability. Outside of work Emma enjoys gardening, camping and crocheting.