Do you have a collection of old electronics growing dust in the back of the shed or bottom drawer? Maybe an old mobile phone with a cracked screen or a laptop that refuses to turn on?
You’re not the only one.
And with the Victorian government’s ban on e-waste going to landfill starting on July 1st, there has never been a better time to dispose of your e-waste correctly.
E-waste –or electronic waste – is any item with a plug, battery or cord that is no longer wanted or used. This covers everything from mobile phones, computers, audio devices, TVs and gaming consoles – but also larger household items and white goods such as fridges, heaters, air-conditioners and vacuums.
Just remember, if it has a plug, battery or cord – it’s e-waste!
The facts about e-waste
- E-waste is growing 3 times faster than general waste in Australia
- Australians discard more than 1 million mobile phones every year
- A million mobile phones contain an estimated 15–16 tonnes of copper, 340–350 kilograms of silver and 24–34 kilograms of gold
- More than 44 million metric tonnes of e-waste was generated worldwide in 2016
- Only 20% of the world’s e-waste was recycled in 2016.
The Victorian ban on e-waste
To protect the environment and our health, the Victorian Government is banning e-waste from landfill as of 1 July 2019.
After this date, any item with a plug, battery or cord can only be disposed of at designated e-waste collection points and can no longer go into any kerbside bin.
That’s right, no electronic waste can go in your green or yellow-lid bin, or in any skip bin for that matter.
Dispose of your e-waste properly
Electronic products contain hazardous materials such as lead, mercury and cadmium. Even in small amounts, these dangerous chemicals can cause environmental contamination.
But when you multiply this by the millions of e-waste items sent to landfill or stored inappropriately, the situation becomes much more serious. Many of these substances are particularly dangerous because they do not break down easily, meaning they stay in the environment for a very long time, causing long-term contamination.
E-waste also contains valuable materials such as nickel, copper and silver that can be recovered and made into new products. By reusing what we’ve already mined, we’re not only cutting costs, we’re also reducing the greenhouse gasses created in the mining, processing and transportation of these raw materials.
If we make every effort to safely dispose of our e-waste, we help keep these materials out of our soil, groundwater and air – and instead recover and reuse the materials for new products. That’s a win-win for the environment, the economy and our health.
How to dispose of your e-waste
We can all play a part in creating a more liveable, sustainable Victoria by ensuring these products don’t end up in landfill. If an electronic item is no longer working or wanted, and you can’t find a way to fix it or sell it, then the most environmentally-friendly option is to take it to a designated e-waste drop-off point.
A network of more than 1000 e-waste collection points are located across Victoria. These include your local council’s transfer stations, Officeworks stores, MobileMuster drop-off points and more.
The Victorian Government has funded upgrades to 122 local council transfer stations across Victoria to ensure they are equipped to collect and store e-waste.
Additionally, Officeworks received a ￼Resource Recovery Infrastructure Fund grant to purchase and install new e-waste collection stations at 42 stores across Victoria.
Photo credit: Bhavik Shah, Officeworks
Over the next year, this network will continue to expand. This means your nearest drop-off point is probably closer than you think.probably closer than you think.
To find your nearest collection point, visit our E-waste website or contact your local council.
How to can minimise your e-waste
In a time where electronic upgrades seem infinite and we’re constantly tempted to buy that new kitchen gadget or computer, it is important that we act as conscious consumers and consider the environment before purchasing new products.
Here are some tips to help minimise your e-waste.
- Re-evaluate whether you really need a new electronic item or device. If you purchase a new product you don’t really need, or only require for a one-off job, there’s a good chance it’s going to sit at the back of a drawer or packed away in the shed once you’re finished. Instead, see if you can borrow or rent one first. For instance, try searching online for ‘tool library near me’ for your next odd job around the house
- Consider the second-hand market. The idea of regularly upgrading devices has become all too common in our society. With new models being released regularly, we can feel compelled to purchase the latest version. But it’s worth checking the second-hand market or purchasing an item that is pre-loved or refurbished before buying new
- Extend the life of your electronics. Try to get the most of your products. Keep them clean, avoid overcharging batteries and use protective covers on tablets and phones. Ensure new items are used more than once is also a great way to reduce e-waste
- Donate or sell working electronics. One of the best ways to stop our unwanted electric items from entering the waste stream is to give or sell them to others who will find a use for them. Not only does this extend their life, it could earn you a bit of extra money in the process
- Consider repairing the item (if it is broken). If your electronics are no longer working, you can also try repairing them back to their working condition. Search online for a DIY tutorial or take the item to an electrical or computer repair shop. There are a number of community repair cafes located around Victoria that may be able to help.
Pictured: Melton MP Steve McGhie and Moorabool Council CEO Derek Madden with an iron and a pedestal fan – items that are classified as e-waste – at an e-waste facility in Bacchus Marsh.
To learn more about e-waste or to find your nearest e-waste drop-off point, visit our E-waste website.