Why we need to ban e-waste from landfill now

E-waste (electronic waste) is one of the fastest growing waste streams in Australia, driven by an accelerating change in technology that consumers are now disposing of at unprecedented rates.

E-waste is anything with a plug, battery or cord that is at the end of its useful life. It covers a range of items we use in our daily lives at home or work, including televisions, computers, mobile phones, audio devices, appliances, white goods, even air conditioners.

These items contain valuable materials which are scarce and worth recovering, but also hazardous materials which pose considerable environmental and health risks, especially if treated inadequately.

E-waste sent to landfill is a toxic time bomb, with the potential to leach large quantities of toxic heavy metals such as lead, cadmium and mercury into our precious groundwater and contaminating our soils.

This toxic cocktail of chemicals contaminates our soil, water systems, oceans and even the water you drink and the fruit and vegetables that you and your children eat.

Even in small amounts, these dangerous chemicals can result in long-term environmental pollution. But when millions of e-waste items are dumped in landfill or stored inappropriately, the situation becomes much more serious.

Too valuable to waste

Electronic items contain valuable non-renewable materials such as tin, nickel, zinc, aluminium, copper and small amounts of precious metals. A tonne of e-waste contains other valuable reusable resources such as 400 kg of steel, 250 kg of plastic, 90 kg of non-ferrous metals and even 1.5 g of gold and 15 g of silver.

Sending these materials to landfill means the resources they contain are lost. So why is as much as 63% of e-waste still ending up in our landfills?

We have been working hard to solve this problem and through our process 92% of all the e-waste we receive is recovered, recycled and diverted from landfill. Hazardous materials are safely treated and useful materials are directed forward into the circular economy.

By recycling e-waste, we can reduce our consumption of raw materials, which in turn reduces water and air pollution and protects natural habitats.

Recycling e-waste creates over five times as many jobs as other waste streams due to its complex and intricate nature. Every 10,000 tonnes of e-waste recycled locally create 50 or more full-time equivalent jobs, compared to only 2.8 jobs for landfill.1

It’s time we banned e-waste to landfill

YOU CAN HELP by simply using your name and signing this petition. Together, let’s tell our government that we want to solve the e-waste problem once and for all.

We want to see more e-waste reused and recycled in Western Australia. The first step to making this happen is to stop allowing direct disposal of e-waste by including it alongside tyres and asbestos as a banned material to landfill.

A ban would mean that e-waste could no longer be placed in any household bin and would have to be taken to an e-recycling facility or drop-off point. (There are plenty of those! Check out this handy map.)

This would ensure e-waste is appropriately and safely dismantled, sorted and reprocessed.

Responsibly managing e-waste will reduce the amount of waste going to landfill, reduce harm to our environment and human health, provide safe management of hazardous materials, and allow greater recovery of valuable resources.

An e-waste ban would benefit the Western Australian economy, community and environment alike.

How good do you think Western Australians are at e-recycling?

Australians are amongst the highest users and disposers of technology in the world, generating 570,000 tonnes of e-waste in 2016.2

Western Australia has the highest rate of waste generation per capita in the nation, and the equal third lowest rate of resource recovery.3 Our e-recycling performance continually lags behind other states, with the latest figures revealing that WA’s average collection per capita is just 67% of the national average.4

The recently released WA waste strategy aims to increase the material recovery rate to 75% and reduce landfill rates by 15%, by 2030.

We believe that these results can be achieved – by ensuring that recycling infrastructure is supported and continuously innovated and by sending a clear message that the recycling of e-waste is important and landfilling of it is unacceptable.

The eastern states are leading the way

Other Australian states have recognised the importance of keeping e-waste out of landfill and are making e-recycling mandatory.

South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory banned e-waste to landfill nearly a decade ago!5  E-recycling volumes grew significantly following these bans. Victoria’s landfill ban will start on 1 July 2019, and their government is investing significant funding to ensure it is rolled out successfully.

Isn’t it time we did something too?

Make a difference

Help us ban e-waste from WA landfill now. Please sign and share this petition and play your part in keeping Western Australia beautiful.

 

 

1Access Economics (2009) Employment in waste management and recycling, commissioned by the Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts.

2In 2016, Australia generated 23.6 kg of e-waste per inhabitant; Baldé, C.P. et al. (2017) The Global E-waste Monitor, United Nations University, International Telecommunication Union & International Solid Waste Association, Bonn/Geneva/Vienna.

3National figures from 2014‐15 (the latest available as at September 2018); Waste Authority (2019) Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Strategy 2030, Perth.

4WA’s average collection per capita being 1.4kg, 67% of the national average of 2.08kg/capita; Department of Environment and Energy (2018) Review of the Product Stewardship Act, including the National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme – Consultation Paper, Canberra.

5 The Australian Capital Territory was the first to make it mandatory to recycle e-waste, banning computers from 2005 and televisions from 2010. South Australia starting phasing in a landfill ban in 2010. As of September 2013, all e-waste is banned from direct landfill disposal across all of South Australia.

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