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Many Australians are buying more and more electronic products which often have quite a short lifespan. The waste that these products create when they're no longer wanted is called 'e-waste'.
E-waste is now the fastest growing area of waste in Australia, but the good news is that there are simple actions you can take to reduce the amount of toxic e-waste going to landfill.
- Help the re-use of precious metals and resources
- Reduce the amount of toxic waste that goes to landfill
- Save money by rethinking what you buy
At a glance
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- Ease 2
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Rethinking what you buy, refusing to buy into the latest fad and reducing your consumption can have a big impact on your e-waste footprint as well as your home entertainment and home office expenses.
- Resist always buying the latest technology or gadgets and focus on the features you regularly use and need. Remember, the latest technology will be out of date soon too.
- Consider how your technology fits together—for example you may not need to individually own a tablet, laptop, desktop and smartphone to meet your IT needs.
- Choose long-lasting, durable products over disposable ones.
- Upgrade rather than replace. For example, you can increase the memory on most computers and purchase new software. This can also save you money.
- Repair rather than buy something new.
Our home entertainment and technology guide can help you understand your technology needs and help you reduce the creation of more e-waste.
When you really need something new, think about who could benefit and re-use your old technology and appliances.
- Give your old technology and appliances to someone who needs it. Check with your friends, family, your local school and charitable organisations.
- Find an organisation that accepts unwanted computer equipment and refurbishes it for use by schools and charities. Check that old computers that can't be re-used are provided to organisations participating in the National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme.
- Gift your old technology. There are not-for-profit websites that allow you to 'freecycle'. You can let people know what you no longer need and what condition it's in.
- Sell working electronic items through garage sales or at second-hand outlets.
- Refill ink cartridges and recharge alkaline batteries rather than throw them away.
Computers, televisions and other technology are made up of many recyclable components. When you recycle, you stop solid and hazardous waste going to landfill, save resources which can be used to manufacture new products, and reduce the use of raw materials.
- Drop off unwanted televisions, computers and computer products such as keyboards, mice and scanners free of charge at recycling services participating in the National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme and help to increase recovery of valuable materials. Planet Ark's RecyclingNearYou and TechCollect both list organisations recycling televisions, computers and accessories by location. If there are no services currently in your area, look at re-use options or store items safe from the weather until access becomes available.
- Before recycling computers be certain your sensitive data isn't going to be retrievable by anyone else. Simply deleting the data off your hard drive doesn't actually delete it—it just hides it. Check with your computer manufacturer for free erasing tools to help you do this.
- Mobile phones are also recyclable. Old phones are dismantled into useful components such as batteries, circuit boards, handsets and accessories. Go to Mobile Muster for your local drop-off point.
- Contact your local council to find out what e-waste recycling services they offer for larger electronic and electrical products.
- Look out for electronic manufacturers and corporations who offer low-cost or no-cost 'take-back' and recycling programs. They take back and recycle electronics including mobile phones, laptop and desktop computers, digital cameras, and home and automobile electronics. Options can include returning the items to the place of purchase, dropping them off at a collection point, or sending them by mail back to the manufacturer.
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