Small electronic items present a significant challenge.
According to the WEEE Forum “Small, end of life electrical and electronic appliances present a significant challenge. The UN estimated that in 2019, over 22 million tonnes of small e-waste were produced worldwide. This is 40% of the 57 million tonnes of all e-waste arising globally. If the quantity of these small items keeps on increasing at the same rate as total e-waste (around 3% per annum), it will reach 29 million tonnes by 2030.”
It is incredibly easy to leave cell phones, electric toothbrushes, cameras, cables and e-cigarettes lying about in a drawer at home gathering dust. Or easier still, to throw it in the bin. When we think of electronic waste, the big ticket items like Televisions and computers spring to mind. It would be pretty difficult to accidently throw that in the general waste or recycling bin. However for small items like a broken electric tooth-brush or a used vape, or some wireless headphones probably barely registers as ‘e-waste’ and it ends up in the red bin on its way to landfill.
E-waste in waste trucks & landfill poses risks and incredible loss
E-waste that ends up in landfill can cause hazardous compounds like heavy metals to leach into the groundwater. And the small batteries that are in these items pose a major fire risk to waste plant and infrastructure. Finally and equally as important, these items hold valuable material that should be kept in the circular economy.
According to the innovation news network “To transition to a clean and sustainable economy across the globe, it is estimated that we will need more copper in the next 30 years than we have ever mined. We would need to double current global production – an effort that will require cooperative research and innovation to do so sustainably.”
Professor Michael Goodsite, ISER Director (Acting Research Program Leader for Economics of Sustainable Copper), posed: “Copper is required to power the green economy but how do we increase profitable production of copper from low grade deposits without increasing the environmental impact from mining?”
Well we’ve got to stop throwing it away! Copper is in all electrical items and e-waste(s) is globally the largest copper-bearing waste category since the 1980s.
What do we do with our e-waste then?
Most councils in the metro area recycle their e-waste. Your council will either have a waste transfer station with a place to drop certain types of e-waste, or they’ll host an annual or biannual e-waste drop off event. So contact your local council and ask them how to recycle your e-waste.
Officeworks is also one of our e-waste recycling partners. They have bins for batteries and small e-waste items including:
- Computers and laptops
- Hard drives
- Cables and chargers
- DVDs and CDs
- Computer power supplies
- Printed circuit boards
Ask yourself why before you buy
Not all e-waste is able to be recycled safely in Perth. E-cigarettes for instance pose a risk when it comes to their end of life management due to the battery and the nicotine fluid they hold inside. It’s important to think about the end-of-life of our electronic items when buying them.
Ask yourself how it will be disposed of before you buy it.