Mobile phones can now be recycled at Vodafone, 2degrees and Telecom stores across the Bay under a new recycling scheme.
Environment Minister Amy Adams yesterday announced the New Zealand Telecommunications Forum's (TCF) mobile phone recycling programme had received government recognition.
The scheme, known as RE:MOBILE, is the first product stewardship scheme dealing with e-waste was accredited under the Waste Minimisation Act.
RE:MOBILE aims to increase the number of phones collected annually for reuse or recycling to nearly 300,000, reduce the number of mobile phones going to landfill by 2 per cent, and reduce the number of old phones stored at home by 10 per cent by 2020.
Ms Adams said e-waste was a growing issue as New Zealanders increasingly own multiple devices, such as phones, computers and tablets.
"On average, New Zealanders replace their mobile phones every 18 months, leading to a significant number of phones available for reuse or recycling.
"In fact, it is estimated that each year up to three million mobile phones become obsolete in New Zealand. Of those, only about 2 per cent are recycled," she said.
Ms Adams said there was significant potential for improved efficiency in the use of resources if New Zealanders can capture and process e-waste.
"Voluntary schemes, such as the TCF's mobile phone scheme, are helping New Zealanders recycle resources wisely and raise awareness of the opportunities to do more to minimise waste."
Vodafone, Telecom and 2degrees have in-store recycling bins around New Zealand where people can drop off their old mobile phones.
They also offer a free mail-in service for old phones, and there are regular community-based recycling campaigns.
The phones are sorted into those that can be sold overseas for reuse and those suitable for recycling.
Non-working phones are sent to local recyclers for dismantling before the parts are sold overseas.
The scheme covers mobile and smart phones, their batteries and accessories such as chargers, data cables and head-sets.