Increasing the recovery rates of unwanted devices and extending product lifespans are key targets in a new e-waste sustainability strategy for Telstra.
The national telco company launched Unlocking Hidden Value: Electronics Reuse and Recycling Strategy 2016-2020 on 23 November. The strategy 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.
The framework commits Telstra to responsibly manage the equipment it uses, providing the public with take back, re-use and recycling opportunities, and working in a partnering approach with manufacturers to influence upstream decisions to reduce e-waste and manufacture more sustainable products.
This strategic direction is in response to the scale of the e-waste problem, which is steadily 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.
“For Telstra our new electronics strategy and reinvigorated approach is about being responsive to our customers and the community,” said Telstra Director of Consumer Mobile, Kevin Teoh.
“Consumers and business are increasingly aware of the need for responsible electronics disposal, but are also mindful of issues such as data security and privacy.
“Telstra has had direct experience in this space since helping establish MobileMuster nearly 20 years ago, so we’ve designed our product take-back services to address fundamental concerns like data security. Devices returned to Telstra have their data wiped before they are given a second life through reuse or recycling,” he added.
The strategy has four goals and priorities:
- Product recovery, reuse and recycling
To increase the recovery rate of end-of-life electronics by providing convenient disposal and collection opportunities.
- Outreach and education
To be a trusted voice on e-waste, able to inform and educate the community.
- Responsible end-of-life management
To ensure that when electronic and electrical products are disposed of, reuse and recycling is done in a secure and responsible manner.
- Governance and Simplification
Telstra will update internal processes to encourage and make it easy to responsibly manage electronic waste.
The new strategy comprises 34 actions to achieve those goals, including maximising equipment life, further driving MobileMuster’s take-back program and helping it expand its reach and scope, and through changes to its procurement process.
It also sets Telstra a target of increasing collection rates of available mobile handsets to 33 per cent by 2020, from the 2016 figure of 28 per cent, as well as having 98% of its e-waste collected and diverted from landfill.
In supporting this new strategy,Telstra launched two innovative mobile plans – Go Mobile Swap’ and ‘My Business Lease’ – to the market in early November. These allow customers to access the latest smartphones, but they must be returned at the end of lease for reuse and recycling.
Telstra General Manager – Environment Pauline Gregg commented:
“We are extending recovery and recycling efforts, implementing re-use options and working in the longer term with suppliers and key stakeholders to embed product stewardship for electronics that reduces waste generation.
“Telstra’s size and market position means we can influence the supply chain and be part of the global movement to be more sustainable and move beyond “end-of-pipe” recycling solutions and into circular economy practices.”
Telstra’s Unlocking Hidden Value – Electronics Reuse and Recycling Strategy 2016-2020 is available from its website.