By recycling your mobile phone, you can help save gorillas and stop a brutal war in the Congo. Assuming you like gorillas and don't like war, read on to find out how.
Every mobile phone includes essential transistors made form the metal tantalum, which is refined from the ore coltan. Coltan is found in sizable quantities in the Congo River Basin, as part of combined ore deposits estimated at about US$24 trillion. Since the late 1990s, this region has been violently contested by foreign armies, rebel forces, militias and western (self-)interests, all of whom are generating massive profits, inflicting widespread misery, and wiping out valuable wildlife habitats. Forced child labour is now common. Meanwhile, the gorilla population has dropped by 90% in the last five years.
There are alternative ways to get tantalum, however. Indeed, Australia is one of the world's largest suppliers. Increasingly, many electronics companies are sourcing their tantalum from outside Central Africa.
Zoos Victoria, in partnership with the Jane Goodall Institute, has set up the They're Calling On You program, which invites you to send in your old mobile phones so that its valuable components can be harvested and recycled. By donating your old mobile to the program, you are:
- Providing funds to the Jane Goodall Institute to carry on their primate conservation work, through the sale of refurbished handsets.
- Lessening the need for coltan.
- Decreasing landfill.
Phones can be dropped off at Melbourne Zoo or Werribee Park Zoo, or posted free of charge by downloading and printing a postage-paid label from the website. Corporate and school fleet donations are strongly encouraged. For more information, and pre-paid labels, visit http://www.zoo.org.au/Calling_on_You.