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.

 

Study finds China dumps most e-waste in Asia

Telstra e-waste reuse and recycling strategy went live in November 2016
China is dumping more electronic waste per year than any country in Asia, according to research by the United Nations E-Waste Monitor.

The regional study found China dumped the most waste at 6.7 million metric tons, while Hong Kong was responsible for the most per capita.

The United Nations University (UNU) research, which sampled 11 countries, found electronic waste in Asia and Southeast Asia rose by almost 63 per cent over a five-year period from 2010 to 2015.

In 2015 alone, the region overall dumped 12.3 million metric tons of electronics, which includes TVs, computers, mobile phones and refrigerators.

According to the World Bank, there are more than two mobile phones for every person in the nation in Hong Kong, while its 7.2 million population is estimated to be nearly 200 times smaller than China’s.

Last year, an investigation by Seattle environmental group ­Basel Action Network found Hong Kong had become a dumping ground for exporters of electronic waste in the United States.

The UNU research showed the increase in e-waste in East and South East Asia was driven by high demand for new gadgets and rising incomes.

It found Japan, Republic of Korea, Taiwan and Province of China had e-waste collection systems in place, while Hong Kong and Singapore had no specific e-waste legislation, but instead managed via a public-private partnership through their respective governments and producers.

South China Morning Post reported in December of last year that Hong Kong was in the midst of developing its first integrated recycling plant for electronics.