Telstra’s new electronics reuse and recycling strategy demonstrates that it is holding itself to account and going beyond mobile devices to e-waste with its voluntary product stewardship activities.
The scale of the e-waste problem is large and currently increasing. In 2013, the United Nations forecast the volume of electronics disposed globally to increase from 48 million tonnes in 2012 to 65 million tonnes by 2017. In Australia, e-waste is growing three times faster than any other waste stream.
Electronics and mobile devices contain iron, copper and gold, as well as silver, aluminium, palladium and plastic. The United Nations University’s 2014 Global E-waste Monitor found that out of 41.8 million tonnes of e-waste generated in 2014, only 6.5 million tonnes were recycled. This means the opportunity to recover those valuable resources for remanufacturing was lost.
Increasing the recovery rates of unwanted devices and extending product lifespans are key initiatives of Telstra’s new Electronics Reuse and Recycling Strategy 2016-2020.
Launched in late November, the Unlocking Hidden Value document sets a direction for how the telecommunications company will manage the electronic equipment it uses across its operations, as well as enabling its customers to recycle e-waste, for the next four years.
Telstra has valuable insights on e-waste through supporting MobileMuster for almost 20 years and running its own internal e-waste management program. Its stores handle about 60 per cent of old phones returned to retailers in Australia and Telstra E-Cycle helped more than 600 small businesses recycle over 60 tonnes of e-waste in 2016.
“Telstra has taken a leading role in a lot of e-waste programs in Australia and we know from experience that more innovation and effort is needed to address this growing environmental problem,” says Chief Sustainability Officer Tim O’Leary.
“We recognise that we have a leadership role to play and part of that is bringing people together and working on the shared responsibility to reduce e-waste.”
Telstra says that the strategy shows industry leadership and demonstrates additional voluntary approaches to product stewardship of e-waste streams aside from just mobile phones and accessories.
To continue reading this article please see page 26 of Issue 9.