Julia Lenart


Since 2005 the “Ö3-Wundertüte”, an initiative of the Austrian radio station Ö3, collects old mobile phones that are no longer used. They are being reused or recycled. The proceeds go to charitable organizations who help families in need.

The Problem: disposal of old Smart Phones

In many Austrian households old mobile phones lie around, never to be used again. Even if one has already bought a new phone, the old phone is not disposed, either for reasons of laziness or for nostalgia. But old phones have lots of potential. In our affluent society most people buy a new phone almost every year although their old one still works fine. Even if the phone is slightly damaged, many would rather buy a new one than repair it.

The solution: promoting uncomplicated disposal

The radio station Ö3 raised awareness to that problem already 13 years ago. Their idea was to collect old phones and recycle them. In cooperation with Caritas, Licht ins Dunkel and the Post the “Ö3-Wundertüte” was invented. It is a red paper bag that is sent to Austrian households every year. Old phones can be put into the bag and send back to Ö3. Since recent times, stores like Media markt or Saturn have special “Wundertüten”-boxes installed, where old phones can be disposed all year long.

It does not matter, if the phone is still in working order or not. Working phones are being reused and donated. Most of them are shipped to Asia, where they are sold at a low price. This helps the environment and provides underprivileged people with mobile communication devices. Phones that do not work any more are being recycled in an environmentally friendly way.

The result: an unique donation campaign

The “Ö3-Wundertüte”-campaign fostered the phone-donation-culture in Austria. Today even schools and companies take part in the initiative and many citizens donate their old phones.

The proceeds (3€ for working phones, 0.50€ for damaged phones) go to charitable organizations like Caritas or Licht ins Dunkel. They support families in need, helping them out of desperate times with financial aid and professional counseling. In the past 13 years the “Ö3-Wundertüte” helped to raise about eight million Euros.

But the “Ö3-Wundertüte” does not just help with donations. At the recycling centers of Caritas, where old phones are recycled, long-time-unemployed people find a job. The initiative helps on many levels to fight social injustice – it surely is one of the best in the country.

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