Friday, August 7, 2015

Aussie E-Waste Recycling Falls Short

Like many waste related programs currently implemented in Australia, our current policies for E-Waste recycling don't capture a large quantity of E-Wastes produced in Australia. In a recent report by Economist Intelligence Unit it was highlighted that Australia is a high producer per capita of E-Wastes and that our systems for capturing this waste are in their infancy. This waste stream contains materials that are either hazardous, rare or precious which means that if manufacturers are going to persist in producing these products we must recover these materials that are a finite resource.

Over the years electronic products have become increasingly complicated and now rather than requiring a relatively small number of elements they now need many more, including rare earth elements. These rare earth elements as their name suggests are rare and are almost solely produced by China where they are used in manufacturing. At some stage these rare earth elements will no longer be able to be mined economically because there simply won't be enough left in the ground.

If we don't want to find ourselves digging up our landfills looking for rare earth elements and/or precious metals we need to make sure that we are recycling as much of our e-waste as possible. Currently there are a number of locations to take your electronic items that are not needed any more. These include local government drop off locations as well as commercially operated drop off locations such as those run by Harvey Normans and The Good Guys. Unfortunately not all Good Guys take electronic products and Harvey Normans only take TVs and not other electronics which is a real shame as often a collection point is needed where all products can be dropped off and this leaves us with government drop off locations. These locations often accept any form of electronic waste from cables all the way to computers and associated peripherals, you should check your local tip or council website for details on what they will accept for recycling.

Greater awareness of this important issue is needed in our communities because if these vital resources are locked away in our landfills which will in time be built over leading to us having to destroy our own infrastructure to recover these assets which power our modern lifestyles.

Nathanael Shergold Software Engineer

Nathanael has worked delivering software to the Waste Management industry for various purposes for the last decade. He loves both running and cycling and spends many hours training every week.