There are many environmental and social justice issues involved in the manufacture of smartphones. Scroll down in this article to the heading "How rare earth elements are re-shaping our world".


Cell (mobile) phones, chargers, covers, interchangeable face plates and other accessories.

Cellphones are made of plastic, glass, cobalt, zinc, cadmium, copper, lithium, metallic oxide and other carbon-based materials. Once the raw materials have been extracted from the Earth they are processed to make the materials and components that go into a cellphone. The metals in cellphones also include rare metals of which 97% are mined in China. See battery.

There were 6.56 million mobile connections in New Zealand in January 2021. The number of mobile connections in New Zealand increased by 78 thousand (+1.2%) between January 2020 and January 2021. The number of mobile connections in New Zealand in January 2021 was equivalent to 135.6% of the total population!

Cellphones are recycled into new products such as copper piping and road cones. Plastics recovered from cellphones are recycled into new electronic products, containers, garden furniture, replacement automotive parts, and license plate frames.


Only upgrade your cellphone when you really need to.


Gift your "old" working phone.

Disassemble your old phone and make it into a wallet or coin purse.

On-sell it.


Recycle with RE:MOBILE - a product stewardship programme supported by Resene, 2degrees, Spark (Telecom) and Vodafone and accredited by the Ministry for the Environment. Recycling your phone not only saves valuable materials and energy, it also supports Sustainable Coastlines, a multi-award winning New Zealand charity, which has partnered with RE:MOBILE to collect and recycle used cellphones. The proceeds from these cellphonoes help plant trees alongside our waterways to restore habitats for native animals, reduce sediment and improve water quality. 

Before donating a cellphone for recycling, disconnect the phone from any cloud services, remove and keep your SIM card, leave the battery in the phone, ensure the phone is switched off. Some more good information on protecting your data when recycling your phone here from NZ Telecommunications Forum.


Please keep from landfill wherever possible.