Getting rid of unwanted electronic goods is a growing problem and in Western Australia it’s piling up but Total Green Recycling knows it doesn’t have to be.
What is electronic waste?
Electronic waste or e-waste is one of the fastest-growing waste streams in Australia.
E-waste includes computers, mobile devices and other electronic technology. It can be considered anything with a plug, battery or a cord that is at the ‘end of its useful life’.
Why is it a problem?
The amount of e-waste disposal has reached unprecedented quantities. An estimated 140,000 tonnes of e-waste reach the end of their life each year. This is being driven by consumerism culture where computers and mobile devices are becoming obsolete before they are purchased.
Almost 95% of the materials found in e-waste is reusable or recyclable, but in WA 63% of e-waste is sent to landfill.
Computers and mobiles devices contain toxic and hazardous materials such as lead, cadmium and mercury. E-waste sent to landfill has the potential to leach these chemicals and exposure to waterways or landfill presents serious health risks and environmental concerns.
E-waste and WA
Western Australians produce 25kg of waste each annually. Despite this, it is still legal for e-waste to be sent to landfills. As a result, e-recycling rates are only half of that compared to some eastern states who have banned e-waste to landfill.
WA-based company Total Green Recycling is opening up their e-waste recycling facilities and conducting tours in an effort to expose local communities to their efforts to ban e-waste to landfill.
Approximately 92% of the e-waste Total Green Recycling receives is recovered and diverted from landfill. Hazardous materials are safely treated and disposed of. Whereas reusable materials such as metals are recycled, and components that are still functional are resold and reused as second-hand parts.
Total Green Recycling Communications Manager Sharka Hornakova said the e-waste facility tour provided an opportunity to educate people about e-recycling by offering a unique view into the process.
“The tours are designed to educate people about how e-waste is recycled and why it is important to keep it out of landfill,” she said.
The City of Canning, Eastern Metropolitan Regional Council and Town of Victoria Park have already participated. The City of Cockburn, City of Perth and the Western Metropolitan Regional Council will be offering tours to their respective residents over the next two months.
Current e-waste disposal restrictions
Any person found illegally disposing of e-waste can be fined and reported to Crime Stoppers as a part of the WA environmental watchdog’s partnership with Crime Stoppers WA launched in August.
WA Environment Minister Stephen Dawson said the initiative supports the government’s priority for a ‘cleaner’ and more ‘sustainable environment’ by ensuring the proper disposal of waste.
“Illegal dumping can be hazardous to the environment and people’s health,” he said.
But Total Green Recycling has started a petition calling on the WA government to go even further and ban e-waste to landfill entirely.
What would a ban entail?
A ban would mean that e-waste could no longer be placed in any regular household bin and would have to be taken to an e-recycling facility or drop-off point.
Essentially, the disposal of e-waste in household bins would be considered illegal. This would ensure e-waste is appropriately and safely disposed, sorted and processed.
Responsible management of e-waste will likely reduce the amount of waste going to landfill, reduce harm to the environment, provide safe management of hazardous materials, and allow greater recovery of resources. It would also encourage people to face the waste they produce.
The petition currently has more than 1,400 signatures.
Thornlie resident Wendy Blake said she signed the petition because it was the least she could do.
“Banning e-waste to landfill is so important and every effort to stop any waste entering landfill and the destruction of our environment is worth it,” she said.
You can help to #banewastewa by signing the petition here.