Warren Overton from TechCollect explains to Waste Management Review how the organisation’s free service is keeping TVs and computers out of landfill.
TechCollect is calling on all Australian businesses to help reduce electronic waste to landfill ahead of its annual Waste Not, Want NotDay on 13 December.
Carmel Dollisson, Chief Executive Officer of TechCollect, a national, not-for-profit industry-funded, e-waste recycling service, free to households and small business, said it’s crucial business owners ensure responsible waste management practices are in place not only for the environment, but to meet changing employee and customer expectations around this important issue.
“With Waste Not, Want Not Day approaching, we encourage all businesses and employees to mark 13 December in the calendar, get their old electronic devices out of the cupboard or company storerooms, and ensure they’re responsibly recycled,” she said.
“TechCollect ensures that at least 90 per cent of the valuable resources in those devices are put back into the manufacturing process to be reused in new products, a far better outcome for the environment then creating new products from virgin materials.”
The 2013 Green Pulse Report, prepared for Planet Ark, highlights how workers and the public are embracing organisations who take recycling seriously, with 82 per cent of employees wanting to see more e-waste recycling in their workplaces.
Additionally, three out of four businesses agree that good waste management improves public perception of the business, according to a 2013 study, A behavioural study in the food & beverage sector to identify barriers to waste minimisation.
“Businesses who put sustainability at the top of their agenda report higher recruitment and staff retention rates, and an overall increase in employee engagement and productivity,” Ms Dollisson said.
“While there are many businesses doing a good job at recycling other items such as cardboard and paper, there is much more work to be done in the corporate sector in electronic waste recycling. We need to create an environment in which responsibilities are more evenly shared, encouraging businesses to become active players in the management and recycling of the electronic waste they’re responsible for, which will also encourage their employees to do the same at home.”
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.