Australians holding onto unused devices: research

Somebody checks information on ther iPad

New research has revealed almost half of consumers are holding onto unused or broken electronic devices in case they need them again one day.

Commissioned by TechCollect, an industry-funded national e-waste recycling service, the research highlights one in five (22 per cent) of survey respondents admit to being hoarders of old electronic devices.

When asked why they don’t recycle their e-waste, 52 per cent said they are worried they’ll lose personal data. Other reasons include not knowing where to recycle e-waste (83 per cent), not knowing it could be recycled (60 per cent), and not wanting to pay to have their device properly recycled (58 per cent).

Personal data was highlighted as a key concern twice, with 64 per cent of respondents also stating they don’t recycle their e-waste because they worry their data will get into the wrong hands. Previous TechCollect research shows this number has increased by 25 per cent, with the same question receiving a response of 39 per cent in 2015.

TechCollect Chief Executive Officer Carmel Dollisson said all Australians need to take an active role in being responsible for recycling the e-waste they are generating.

“The challenge is encouraging consumers to let go of old devices they are no longer using or which are actually broken beyond repair. Although devices can hold sentimental value, the non-renewable resources in them can be used in manufacturing when recycled correctly,” she said.

“Our new research tells us the average Australian household has approximately 17 electronic devices in the home and yet only 23 per cent of us are always recycling them. With the consumption of electronic devices getting higher all the time, it’s crucial consumers look at e-waste recycling as the natural next step in the product lifecycle, especially when it no longer serves its purpose to them.”

There is still an e-waste knowledge gap

When asking respondents what they do with their unused electronic devices, only 33 per cent admitted to actually recycling it at a designated drop-off site. Other responses included putting their e-waste on the nature strip for a scheduled council collection (28 per cent) and throwing it in the garbage bin (25 per cent), which means the product is almost certain to go straight to landfill. 

“What is concerning in the research is 53 per cent of respondents don’t know they can take their e-waste to an e-waste collection site to avoid it going to landfill, and 63 per cent don’t know if their local council recycles,” Ms Dollisson said.

The responsibility debate

The TechCollect survey explored respondents’ feelings of responsibility and guilt. For those who choose to recycle their e-waste, 74 per cent do so because they feel responsible for the e-waste they produce.

When respondents were questioned on how those who don’t recycle their e-waste feel, 18 per cent said they feel very guilty and 46 per cent say they know they could be doing more to help. Apathy is a problem too, with the research showing 31 per cent don’t really think about it.

Other findings showed 69 per cent are aware that dumping e-waste in landfill can be hazardous to the environment and 60 per cent of respondents know their electronic devices contain valuable resources that can be recovered.


Google joins MobileMuster recycling program

MobileMuster is collecting smartphone to help Able Australia and its deafblind service users

Google has become the latest major organisation to join the industry’s official recycling program MobileMuster.

The Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA) welcomed the move, which follows electronics company Nokia, which also recently joined.

MobileMuster, run in partnership with mobile handset manufacturers and network operators Telstra, Optus, Vodafone and Virgin Mobile, provides a free national recycling program for mobiles and accessories.

AMTA Chief Executive Officer Chris Althausb noted the MobileMuster program was formally accredited by the Federal Government as a voluntary product stewardship scheme, and it was great to see new members joining the program as they introduce their products to the Australian market.

“MobileMuster is an example of industry working together to deliver a robust and sustainable take back program. This is one part of our members commitment to product stewardship,” said Recycling Manager, Spyro Kalos.

“MobileMuster ensure mobiles are kept out of landfill and recycled in a responsible, secure and environmentally sound way, placing reusable commodities back into the supply chain.”

Since the program started in late 1998 it has diverted more than 1,320 tonnes of mobiles and accessories from landfill for recycling, including more than an estimated 11.9 million handsets and batteries.

With over 96 per cent of the materials used in a mobile being recyclable, they can be reused to make new products, avoiding future greenhouse gas emissions, saving energy, protecting our environment and conserving scarce natural resources.

MobileMuster accepts and recycles all brands and types of mobile phones, batteries, chargers and accessories. They provide over 3,500 drop-off points across Australia to make it easy for people to recycle.

Isuzu signs on with MEGATRANS2018

Truck manufacturer Isuzu has announced its support of multi-modal supply chain event MEGATRANS2018, joining the show as a Platinum Sponsor.

Isuzu, a market leader in the Australian transport industry for 28 consecutive years, joins key partners including the Victorian Government and the Port of Melbourne in supporting this inaugural trade show event, which takes over the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre 10-12 May 2018.

With a focus on connected vehicles and a technology-driven display in the works for MEGATRANS2018, Isuzu is aiming to set a new benchmark in the wider supply chain industry.

“The discussion and hype surrounding autonomous, or driverless, vehicles and technologies continue to build both overseas and here in Australia,” says Phil Taylor, Director and COO of Isuzu.

“Disruptive technologies appear to be becoming more prevalent with each new year, fundamentally changing the way the market will look at the road transport industry over the next few decades.

“There is one thing that I know for certain, whatever the technology, or the timeframe – Isuzu will ensure that Australian truck operators have access to the latest innovations in truck technology that are suitable for Australian operating conditions, driving better safety outcomes for all road users and improving air quality, productivity and the bottom line for the operator.”

Waste Management Review is an official Media Partner of MEGATRANS2018.

National Waste and Recycling Industry Council headlines Waste Expo

Max Spedding, Chief Executive Officer of the newly formed National Waste and Recycling Industry Council, is set to present one of his first public addresses at Waste Expo Australia.

Mr Spedding will address some of the barriers to achieving a circular economy with sustainable recycling, highlighting issues the council’s members are facing in a heavily regulated industry, including disparities with state landfill levies, interstate transportation and the stockpiling of waste.

He will encourage governments to work together, while also calling for state financing arrangements from accumulated landfill levy funds, allowing for better infrastructure to be provided for waste re-use, recovery and recirculation.

Mr Spedding said he hopes the ongoing work of the council will also encourage greater support for new infrastructure, education programs, research and development, and regulatory enforcement.

“Currently, 60,000 tonnes of waste per month travels from Sydney – where levies are the highest in Australia – to Queensland, where no levies exist,” Mr Spedding said.

“This example alone demonstrates the ineffective and uneven landfill levy policies currently in place, and is one of the many reasons why the council is calling on state governments to make much needed changes to policies and regulations.

Mr Spedding said Waste Expo Australia provided an opportunity for the council to demonstrate a united voice for its members, facilitating meaningful and sustainable recycling together.

“We’re here to make changes towards a circular economy, and we’re in a position and at a stage where we can do so to benefit not just our members, but all Australians.”

Waste Expo Australia will feature more than 70 exhibitors.

Visitors at this month’s exhibition and conference will have the opportunity to hear from more than 35 of the sector’s most reputable leaders as part of Waste Summit, a seminar program. The program is the largest free-to-attend waste management conference in Australia, with 30 topical and informative sessions, keynote presentations, practical case studies, lively panel sessions and white paper discussions.

The Waste Summit provides an opportunity for attendees to learn from industry peers and stay informed across areas including policy, legislation, circular economy, waste-to-energy, solid waste management, new technologies and advancements.

Waste Expo Australia will be held at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre on Wednesday 11 and Thursday 12 October. It will be co-located with All-Energy Australia 2017, the country’s premier clean energy and renewables event, as part of Australian Sustainability Week. To register for Waste Expo Australia, head to their website. 

Max Spedding will present Waste and Recycling in Australia – Where to next, at 10:15am on Wednesday 11 October, at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre.

City of Port Phillip expands e-waste service

Melbourne’s City of Port Phillip is leading the charge on the recyclability of e-waste, with a new service to include power cords and batteries.

Residents can now place all personal items that have a power cord or a battery, in their hard waste collection piles for recycling, or drop them off at council’s transfer station in South Melbourne.

Mayor Bernadene Voss welcomed the expanded service.

“This initiative places us at the forefront of diverting hazardous material from landfill, well ahead of next year’s state-wide ban on e-waste going to landfill.

Cr Voss said common cord and battery items include keyboards, computer mice, remote controls, hairdryers, toasters, children’s toys, kitchen appliances and technology equipment with batteries.

“The newly included items are in addition to our usual e-waste products like TVs, computers and mobile phones. All of these items can now be picked up for free from residents who make a hard waste collection booking, or dropped-off for free at our South Melbourne transfer station.”

Council stressed that e-waste items cannot be placed in the household recycling bin and that all recyclables collected, including residents’ e-waste, go to accredited reyclers.

The council’s move comes as the Victorian Government this week announced its consultation on its proposed approach to managing e-waste in Victoria, including a statewide ban on e-waste going to landfill starting July 2018.

Council has received a Sustainability Victoria Improving Resource Recovery grant to part-fund the creation of a video to explain the new e-waste definition and upcoming e-waste landfill ban to residents; along with how and where to safely dispose of and recycle these items in Port Phillip.

Image: Mayor Bernadene Voss announces that residents are already able to have more e-waste items recycled for free by Port Phillip Council.

Funding boost For regional waste initiatives

The Victorian Government has announced round two of funding of its Resource Recovery Infrastructure Grant.

It includes $5 million to go towards regional initiatives, helping businesses and local government expand their operations to recover valuable products and reduce waste going to landfill.

Sustainability Victoria is overseeing the grants, including the 14 projects from round one, all of them managing waste from metropolitan Melbourne.

One project turns plastic bags into products such as park benches, decks and bridges; another will use a washing facility to treat problematic materials; another to recover organic food waste with the help of dehydration units – all will reduce landfill by over 200,000 tonnes a year and create 90 new jobs in Victoria.


Victorian Government seeks feedback on e-waste ban

The Victorian Government is seeking community and industry input on the details of its proposed ban on e-waste from landfill.

It comes one year before the next election, and is part of the state government’s 2014 election commitment to ban e-waste from landfill.

The government has invested $16.5 million into an education and awareness campaign, to educate Victorians about how and why to recycle their e-waste, along with new e-waste collection points to be installed across the state.

E-waste includes any device that requires a power cord or a battery to operate and that is no longer wanted or useful, including phones, computer and computer accessories, and even kitchen equipment such as toasters.

The government estimates it is growing three times faster than general waste, with research showing that in 2015, some 109,000 tonnes of e-waste got into the Victorian waste system. Projections suggest Victoria will be producing 256,000 tonnes of e-waste by 2035.

Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said the consultation process was important, with action from the community, recyclers and landfill managers required to divert e-waste from landfill.

The government believes responsibly managing e-waste will help reduce the amount of waste going to landfill and the negative impacts on our environment, provide safe management of hazardous materials, and allow greater recovery of valuable materials.

The development of the Waste Management Policies to ban e-waste from landfill and ensure appropriate management of e-waste is a joint project between Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning and the Environment Protection Authority.

Victoria’s seven waste and resource recovery groups, who help to deliver waste and resource recovery programs around the state, will join with these other agencies to discuss the ban and the supporting measures with stakeholders.

A policy impact assessment and draft Waste Management Policies that will give effect to the ban have now been released for public comment for three months, with the ban expected to be implemented by July 2018.

The documents are available on the government’s website.



SUEZ Recycling gains contract with Mackay Regional Council

SUEZ Recycling and Recovery Pty Ltd has been awarded a $600,000 contract with Mackay Regional Council in North Queensland.

The organisation will look after the councils’s waste haulage and landfill services contract at its Paget Transfer Station and Hogan’s Pocket Landfill.


The council said the seven-year-and-eight-month contract is an $87,000 saving in the first year from the previous contract.

Infrastructure and Services Committee chair Cr Karen May said there were significant benefits in a sole operator looking after council’s waste management process.

“The appointment of a single contractor means there is no passing of the buck and they are responsible for managing all operations and delivering the service on time and on budget,” she said.

“The Paget Waste Transfer Station is a critical service that handles 92 per cent of the total waste sent to Hogan’s Pocket Landfill annually and processes 71 per cent of the total annual customer transactions.”

“If our waste services aren’t delivered seamlessly it can cause serious disruption to the community.”

As part of the contract, SUEZ must also meet key performance indicators set by the council.

Incredable Ltd, the not-for-profit organisation, will continue to operate the Resource Recovery Facility and the Tip Shop located adjacent to the transfer station.

Suez will begin operations at the Paget Waste Transfer Station from November 1, 2017.

Queensland Department of Environment releases annual report

Plastic bottles dumped

The Department of Environment and Heritage Protection’s (EHP) 2016-17 Annual Report highlights a year of achievement in climate change, banning plastic bags and tackling rogue environmental operators, Acting Environment Minister Mick de Brenni says.

Mr de Brenni said the department achieved a number of significant milestones as Queensland’s environmental regulator.

“The department now has greater powers to pursue poor environmental performs, and crack down on companies walking away from site rehabilitation,” Mr de Brenni said.

He said that in the area of environmental management, a new operational policy was developed and released to manage the use of firefighting foam products in Queensland containing PFAS. This includes a three year transition to a ban on foam.

“When it comes to compliance and enforcement activities, Operation TORA – led by EHP—continues to stamp out rogue waste management operators to ensure that Queensland does not become the dumping ground for other states,” he said.

“Big achievements in EHP’s policy area include the container refund scheme and the plastic shopping bag ban – both come into effect from 1 July 2018.”

Mr de Brenni said some of the other achievements highlighted in the annual report include a whole-of-government climate adaptation strategy and the launch of the Queensland Climate Resilient Councils program.

“Tackling climate change is critical for strengthening the resilience of our iconic places, particularly the Great Barrier Reef. In the last year, one of the biggest achievements was keeping the Reef off the endangered list,” he said.

The Minister said the health and management of the Great Barrier Reef was a key, ongoing priority for the department.

“In 2016–17, EHP’s Office of the Great Barrier Reef continued to coordinate and deliver the state’s commitments under the Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan and the implementation of the Great Barrier Reef Water Science Taskforce,” Mr de Brenni said.

“This work allowed new major projects to start in partnership with agricultural producers, with the end goal of helping to improve the quality of water flowing into reef catchments.”

The Department of Environment and Heritage Protection’s 2016-17 Annual Report was tabled in the Queensland Parliament.

The report can be viewed online here.

Victorian Government implements Interim Waste Management Policy

The Victorian Government has put into place an Interim Waste Management Policy to remain in tact for 12 months.

The policy was declared in response to a significant fire at the SKM Recycling plant at Coolaroo in mid-July. The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) Victoria says it is needed to ensure that stockpiles of combustable recyclable and waste material are appropriately managed, and the associated risk to human and environmental health. These include the generation of hazardous air pollutants (including smoke), oil, run-off and leachate that affect the air, soil and waterways.

The policy, which applies to waste and resource recovery facilities, will remain in place for 12 months, however during this time further solutions for improving resource recovery facilities will be developed by the state government.

The IWMP applies to operators of sites that store combustible, recyclable, and waste material and requires storage of materials in a manner that reduces the risk to human health and the environment. These materials include includes paper, cardboard, wood, plastic, rubber, textile, organic material, refuse derived fuel, specified electronic waste, metals, and other combustible material which is considered waste. The policy also gives the EPA additional powers to support local government and Victoria’s fire services and issue remedial notices to facilities not properly managing potential fire risks.

EPA has developed Management and storage of combustible recyclable and waste materials – guideline (publication 1667) to provide practical guidance for industry on how to comply with the policy and operate in a manner that reduces potential fire risks and risks to human health and environment. This guideline will sit under the Interim Waste Management Policy.

Some of the guidelines outlined in publication 1667 include a necessity for operators to record inventory information on the types of waste stored and managed at the premises, its location and volumes. The inventory must also be maintained daily and easily accessible. Other areas of compliance range from safe working practices and infrastructure, to site selection and risk assessments. The guideline was developed in partnership with other government agencies such as Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB), Country Fire Authority (CFA), local councils and Metropolitan Waste and Resource Recovery Group. The waste industry and resource recovery representatives were also consulted.