What can we do to reduce our e-waste?
Author: Ryan Collins
Australians generate about 485,000 tonnes of electronic waste per year or around 20kg per person with around half of that going to landfill. In 2013, South Australia became the first state to introduce an e-waste ban to landfill, with Victoria recently becoming the second state on 1 July this year. So what else can be done by governments, businesses and you to reduce e-waste?
E-waste basically includes everything with a plug or battery, from TVs, computers and mobile phones to power tools, kitchen appliances and of course all types of batteries. The move to ban these items from landfill is one Planet Ark wholeheartedly supports, with e-waste currently growing at a rate three times faster than any other waste stream in Australia.
Bans on e-waste in landfills encourage safe management of hazardous materials found in electronics and enable greater recovery of the valuable materials. This reduces the impact on our environment and leads to a more stable recycling industry as well as more jobs.
Local councils are often left to deal with landfill bans and so should be supported as much as possible by State and Federal Governments. Product stewardship initiatives, where equipment manufacturers help take responsibility for the end of life of their products, will receive $20 million from the newly elected Federal Coalition. This is a positive step but a priority should be to implement schemes for all e-waste including batteries.
Planet Ark’s RecyclingNearYou service provides information on e-waste recycling in your local area. There are free product stewardship schemes for items like computers, TVs, mobile phones and printer cartridges. Some councils also provide free drop off services for other electrical items.
Positive actions you can take
- Avoid creating e-waste in the first place and buy less and only if really needed. It helps to purchase higher quality products that last and don’t forget to ask about brand and retailer warranty commitments.
- Repair by taking advantage of product warranties but also regularly check and service appliances. You could try Repair Cafes or social enterprises like Enable.
- Reuse by selling or passing it on for free via digital platforms
- Share by using the growing number of tool libraries such as those in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney or try online via ToolMates Hire and Share Adelaide.
- Recycle mobile phones through MobileMuster, TVs and computers through TechCollect and printer cartridges through Cartridges 4 Planet Ark.
- Sign up your workplace for a mobile phone or printer cartridge collection box through MobileMuster and Cartridges4PlanetArk.
- Search RecyclingNearYou to recycle other types of e-waste like batteries, white goods and other electrical appliances.
Ryan is the Head of Sustainable Resource Programs at Planet Ark. After nearly a decade working in the banking and finance industry Ryan was drawn to a career in environmental conservation that saw him work in Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Fiji. With a background in psychology and environmental management, Ryan’s role at Planet Ark since 2012 has been focused on developing engaging and positive environmental behaviour change programs to help everyone recycle and reduce waste.
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