Mobile Phone Campaign

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Have you ever considered what the real costs are behind the production of your mobile phone? Often we go to the stores and base our product choices upon the phone with the flashiest features and the cheapest price. We all look to that sticker value on the shelf, without considering the environmental and social costs that went into the production of that phone.

Coltan Mining

Coltan is a metallic ore comprising Niobium and Tantalum. It is mined mainly in the eastern regions of the Democratic Republic of Congo (formally Zaire). When refined, coltan becomes a heat resistant powder, making it ideal for circuit boards in mobile phones. The mining process of coltan is one often controlled by militia groups, using child labours and child soldiers to mine the metallic ore. 80% of the coltan supply comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo and according to the UN is subject to “systemic exploitation”.

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Threats to Gorillas and Chimpanzees

Kahuzi Biega National Park is a strong hold for the Mountain Gorilla – unfortunately it is also a main area of the illegal mining of coltan, bringing miners and the Great Apes into direct conflict. Gorillas and Chimpanzees not only lose their rainforest homes, but are occasional killed for bush meat as local people are also displaced due to the illegal mining, logging and conflict with rebel groups.

Did You Know?

  • Worldwide, it’s estimated there are more mobile phones than people.
  • Currently, there are 6 billion mobile phone subscriptions worldwide.
  • In Australia, people upgrade their phones every 1.5 – 2 years.
  • Only 2% of these mobile phones are thrown away.
  • There are more than 23 million unused mobile phones taking space in drawers, waiting to be recycled.
  • If these phones were recycled the greenhouse benefits would be equivalent to planting over 119,000 trees!

What Can You Do?

  • Pressure your mobile phone companies to provide evidence that coltan contained in their devices is conflict free
  • Recycle your old mobile devices!
    • In Australia, DeforestACTION has combined recycling efforts with the Jane Goodall Institute to recycle mobile phones. Email to register your school’s interest.
    • Download our mobile phone lesson plan and posters to start your campaign now! (Note: the posters may take a few minutes to load)
    • If you’re not in Australia, contact the Jane Goodall Institute to find out more about mobile phone recycling in your region.

References: (photo credit)


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