Recycling campaign targets mobiles

Did you ever think that your humble iPhone, Galaxy or HTC could be pushing one of our closest relatives into extinction?

Gorilla. Image: Flickr user viralbus

Gorilla. Image: Flickr user viralbus.

La Trobe University is fighting back against the extinction of the mountain gorilla by implementing a Zoos Victoria initiative, ‘They’re Calling on You’. This initiative facilitates recycling of old mobile phones and is a big win for both the environment and the Gorilla population as it will lessen the demand for the mineral, coltan.

Coltan-a vital ingredient in most mobile phones is being mined profusely in the Congo River basin which is home to the mountain gorilla. This is having dire effects on gorilla population due to increased deforestation and greater accessibility for poachers.

The impetus for recycling phones is to reduce the demand for coltan mining in the gorilla habitat. Additionally money raised from the donations is used to support rangers in national parks and conservation programs.

La Trobe staff, students and the general community are all welcome to recycle their phones at the University.

‘The Zoo’s Victoria initiative campaign has been popular among the La Trobe community with over 300 phones already being donated’, said Vice-President of Administration Natalie MacDonald who is confident that with a staff of 3000, there are more phones to be recycled.

Zoos Victoria reports that this initiative has increased anti-poaching work and has played a part in the confiscation of more than 2000 poacher traps and snares.

With over 90% of Australians owning a mobile phone and people upgrading every 12 to 24 months, the potential for mobile phone recycling, lessening the need to mine for coltan, is vast.

Ms MacDonald says ‘La Trobe staff and students are becoming more aware of the need to dispose of their mobile phones responsibly.’

‘In 2013 we plan to promote this program further with the aim of collecting more obsolete phones for donation to the ‘They’re Calling on You’ campaign’, says Ms MacDonald.


Staff, students and the community can donate their old phones at the collection boxes found in the Bundoora campus library.

For more information about the Zoos Victoria initiative, ‘They’re Calling on You’ visit http://www.zoo.org.au/get-involved/act-for-wildlife/theyre-calling-on-you

Media Enquires:
Dian Lipiarski
Media and Communications Officer
T:  +61 3 9479 5353 | e: d.lipiarski@latrobe.edu.au