Donating old phones is a good call

FIONA ROTHERHAM
Last updated 05:00 31/05/2012
Rachel Boyd
PHIL DOYLE/Fairfax NZ
WHAT A STAR! Between 3000 and 5000 cellphones a week are donated to the Starship Foundation's recycling partner, Folamh, which keeps Rachel Boyd busy.

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Ever wondered what happens to cellphones that are donated to the Starship Foundation?

The fundraising-through-recycling initiative, launched in February 2009, is based on the Jack & Jill Foundation's model.

Jack & Jill has raised millions of pounds for home respite care for children in Ireland, while the Starship Foundation's recycling partner – Irish-based Folamh – has raised close to $2m in New Zealand over the past three years, according to the company's New Zealand manager, Kate Bunge.

When the initiative was begun, it was estimated 2 million phones could become obsolete each year.

Companies, including all three major telcos, donate their old phones to Folamh, while schools and non-profit organisations like the Scouts get a small reward for their contributions (which helps raise money for them, too).

Folamh sorts through the phones and those that cannot be repaired are sent to Sims Recycling, the world's largest electrical and electronics recycler, which breaks them down for the metals. None of the parts ends up in landfill, Bunge says.

Those phones that can be repaired are sold via tender and sent to Hong Kong, where they are tested, spruced up, and then sold around the world.

Proceeds from the tender sales are shared between Folamh and Starship, with 50per cent to 60per cent going to the Starship Foundation.

The money is used for the Starship national air ambulance service, which flies top medical experts to life-threatening emergencies across the country.

The foundation gives the service $1.5m a year.

Folamh receives between 3000 and 5000 phones a week. It plans to start recycling laptops by the end of the year.

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- BusinessDay

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