6 questions to ask to ensure your e-waste is not being exported illegally

Australian e-waste has a reputation for ending up in African or Asian countries, torn apart and burnt by under-aged children. (You can read this article by ABC from 2017 Australian e-waste ending up in toxic African dump, torn apart by children or more recent E-waste exports highlight need for tighter controls on ‘unethical and irresponsible’ trade.)

At Total Green Recycling, we pride ourselves on making sure it doesn’t happen to any of the e-waste we receive. Being accredited to AS 5377 for processing e-waste ensures that we are recycling in excess of 90% of the materials we receive for the full life cycle. (You can learn about Why is Total Green ISO 14001 and AS/NZS 5377:2013 certified in our older article.)

Now let’s cut straight to the chase. Here is how YOU can minimise the chances that your electronics end up illegally exported to developing countries.

Ask, ask, ask!

Start by asking a lot of questions!

After all, legitimate recycler should be more than happy to explain how they recycle your items and where all the different materials they recover go. (We recommend joining us on social media for plentiful live-stream videos from our facility or coming for a tour to see for yourself.)

6 Questions to ask your council or drop-off location

  1. Do you recycle locally in WA? What is the address of the recycling facility you use?
  2. Do you complete the recycling and disassembly yourself or do you use a 3rd party recycler?
  3. Can I visit your site to see your/their recycling process in action?
  4. What do you do with the hard drives that you receive in the computers?
  5. Where do you send your batteries and printed circuit boards and how are these recycled?
  6. Will I receive a certificate from your company to guarantee that my e-waste has been recycled in accordance with Australian standards and regulations?

Often you will be able to recognise illegitimate recyclers with some of these questions as they will not have transparent answers. Ask the right questions and you will easily have these people on the back foot. Knowledge is Power!

Do your online homework

Check the recycler’s website for evidence of Accreditation and Certification.

At a minimum, all legitimate e-waste recyclers will be accredited to and should be able to provide evidence of the following certification and/or accreditation:

    • ISO 14001 – Environmental Management System
    • ASNZ 5377 – Collection, storage, transport and treatment of end-of-life electrical and electronic equipment
    • Check the JAZ-ANZ Register by typing in the company name to see which standards they are certified to

In case the recycler cannot produce evidence of the above minimum accreditations then you may be certain that they are illegitimate and will likely be exporting e-waste illegally for profit.

If a company is offering a completely free service and they have not demonstrated that they are a company recycling equipment counted towards the NTCRS targets under the NTCR Scheme (National Television and Computer Recycling scheme explained) then you can probably not rely on them doing the right thing with the e-waste they receive.

Often these companies make their profit by collecting all the material. Then selling the working parts. And then, dumping or exporting the non-working equipment and materials that need to be paid to be recycled or disposed of properly.

Export ban deadline – materials recovered

Environment Ministers met on Friday, 8 November to decide the timeline to ban exports of glass, tyres, plastic and paper.

Key actions included an export ban for:
✓ all waste glass by July 2020
✓ mixed waste plastics by July 2021
✓ all whole tyres including baled tyres by December 2021,
✓and remaining waste products, including mixed paper and cardboard, by no later than 30 June 2022.

It is expected that for Western Australia, the progressive ban will be a significant challenge, as the majority of these materials, except glass, are currently exported.

 

We are looking for local manufacturing and product design partners to begin the creation of a new range of innovative products made from recycled materials. A local circular economy here in Perth is our mission.

Please comment below or get in touch with us if you’d like to collaborate.

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