How to Responsibly Recycle Electronic Waste

Electronic waste is one of the fastest growing contributors to our waste stream, increasing at a rate which is 3 times faster than any other type of waste in Australia (Zero Waste).

From mobile phones to computers, televisions, batteries, and other electrical appliances, many of our beloved gadgets are filling up landfills and polluting the environment. So how do we recycle our electronic products responsibly? And which components can be reused in new products?

What can we recycle?

According to Zero Waste, an initiative of the South Australian state government, about 90% of the components in computers and televisions can be recycled, but more than 1.5 million are dumped in Australian landfills every year. Nearly all household electrical items (e.g. laundry machines, televisions, mobile phones, stereos, hair dryers, toasters etc.) contain valuable resources which can be recycled. For example, copper, aluminium, nickel, zinc, glass, and plastic can all be repurposed and manufactured into new products.

Responsible recycling

Eventually all electronic equipment will become redundant or stop working, so it’s important to understand how to safely and responsibly dispose of your e-waste. Dumping your unwanted electrical items on the street/kerbside, or in community parks and recreational areas, is both dangerous and costly. Most electrical items contain hazardous substances, like lead, mercury and phosphorus, which are bad for the environment and human health. Collecting and cleaning up e-waste also costs the local government a lot of money and is a waste of natural resources, like fuel, water and energy.

Can you put e-waste in your normal household recycling bin?

Most electrical items cannot be processed through the normal kerbside collection system. Hazardous substances, like flame retardants and lead, pose a threat to the workers at your local landfill site and are dangerous for collection trucks to crush.

So what do I do with my old electrical items?

To safely dispose of your electrical goods it is important to take them to a designated e-waste drop off facility. These facilities are specifically equipped to sort through old electrical items, handle hazardous substances, and recycle products which would otherwise take years to break down in regular landfills. Brisbane residents can dispose of their electronic waste for free at the council transfer station. For a full list of recycling facilities in Australia, visit Recycling Near You, or see your local council website to find your closest e-waste drop off facility.

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