Australia is one of the biggest consumers of electronics in the world, producing 600,000 tonnes of e-waste every year. 88% of the 4 million computers and 3 million TVs bought here every year end up in landfill. You can ensure you don’t contribute to this by resisting upgrades and recycling properly at the City of Sydney’s e-waste drop-off day on 2 June.
Tech products are developed with a deliberate lifespan, becoming outdated due to function or style. This quick cycle of outmoded technology creates catastrophic waste. So, whether due to in-built obsolescence or a breakdown, people are constantly discarding their smartphones, DVD players, computers, TVs and other electronics.
What’s the environmental impact?
This poses two environmental problems. The first is the increased mining and procuring of materials needed to produce new technology. TVs and computers, for example, contain valuable non-renewable resources, including gold, steel and copper.
The second issue is the huge quantity of electronic waste going to landfill. Some of these items can be highly toxic – there’s arsenic in cathode ray tubes and mercury in flat screen TVs. These substances can seep into groundwater, contaminating soil and entering our food supplies.
What can I do?
Try to reduce your consumption and resist the upgrade if you don’t really need it. And, don’t throw your e-waste in the red bin – this will send it to landfill. You have many repair or recycling options:
- If your item is broken, try The Bower’s Repair Café, as it might be returned to working order.
- If your item still works but you just don’t want it, OzRecycle, will help you give it away.
- If your item is truly done for, drop it off at the City of Sydney’s e-waste drop-off day on 2 June at Sydney Park Depot, 54 Barwon Park Rd, St Peters. See which items are accepted and what you can do with those that aren’t. You don’t have to live in the City of Sydney government area to use this service.
The e-waste collected at the drop-off day is diverted from landfill and around 95% of raw materials recovered are recycled. While many recycling suppliers send e-waste to developing countries, everything the City of Sydney collects is processed by their contractor MRI. Leaded glass is separated from other glass and sent to a lead smelter for extraction and steel castings are recycled locally as scrap metal. Components are stripped, broken down into commodities and circulated back into the market, delivering great environmental and social benefits to the community.