According to the National Waste Report 2020, there was 74.1 million tonnes of waste generated in Australian between 2018-19. Of that amount, around 539,000 tonnes was ewaste. That may seem like a fairly small percentage of the grand total; however, that figure is actually a 3.7% increase on the previous year.
While the report suggests that a lot of e-waste in Australia is being recycled, much more still needs to be done if we want to decrease the amount of e-waste being generated. Currently, e-waste is the fastest growing domestic waste stream. With Clean Up Australia Day, Earth Hour and World Water Day all happening this month, the environment is on our minds. And the question many of us are asking is: “How can I reduce, reuse and recycle more?”
E-waste is anything that has a battery or a plug and has reached the end of its useful life. This includes items like computers, mobile phones, tablets, TVs and microwaves.
In 2019, the United Nations Institute for Training and Research reported that there was a total of 53.6 million tonnes of e-waste generated worldwide. This figure is up by 21% in just five years, and modelling predicts that by 2030 the total amount of e-waste generated globally will be around 74 million tonnes – which, as we mentioned above, was the total amount of waste generated in Australia alone between 2018-19.
Some of the contributing factors for the increase in e-waste include:
A circular economy is based around recycling, reusing and repairing existing materials. A linear economy, on the other hand, is one where products are created but are ultimately turned into waste. When you recycle electronic products instead of throwing them out and adding them to landfill, you’re contributing directly to a circular economy and taking direct, positive steps towards helping the environment.
When you recycle e-waste products responsibly, it has a number of flow-on effects:
It's not hard to see how these effects can have an impact on humans as well as the environment. When hazardous materials enter the soil, water and air, this can lead to chronic health issues in humans. This is why reusing, reducing and recycling e-waste is so important for the global environment.
When your TV unexpectedly blows up or your laptop stubbornly refuses to co-operate, think about recycling your e-waste it instead of sending it to landfill.
In Australia, the federal government has set up the National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme. Items for e-waste recycling include televisions, computers and computer parts and printers. Currently, there are two organisations that are approved under the scheme to provide pick-up and drop-off recycling services (TechCollect and E-Cycle Solutions). However, as the federal government’s scheme does not cover many household electrical appliances, it’s also worth taking a look at Planet Ark’s recycling directory for e-waste recycling locations near you.
Vodafone is also a member of MobileMuster, which is a government-accredited mobile phone recycling program managed by Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA). MobileMuster accepts all brands and types of phones for recycling as well as phone batteries, chargers and other accessories.
In 2021, a total of 7,425 mobile phones were recycled by Vodafone and our customers. By recycling mobile phones instead of sending them to landfill, this resulted in:
For every mobile phone recycled, more than 90% of its materials can be recovered and used again. And more materials being recycled means fewer raw resources being extracted to make new products, which has a directly positive effect on our environment.
There are more than 3,500 public MobileMuster recycling drop-off points, including more than 300 Vodafone stores throughout Australia.
We’re living in a world where the direct effects of climate change are more obvious than ever before. And sometimes it feels as if the surmounting problems around e-waste and other types of waste are just too big for us to tackle. But while these problems are serious, that doesn’t mean that you can’t do your part to help reduce e-waste. While we need corporations and organisations to step up to the plate and do their share, there are many ways that individuals can also help.
Here are just a few simple ways you can cut down on the amount of e-waste that ends up in landfill:
So the next time you think of tossing out your old electronics, think outside the box and discover ways you can prevent them from ending up in landfill.