How to treasure your tech

How to treasure your tech

By Claire Bell  November 4th, 2020

E-waste is the fastest growing waste stream in the world. Where does it all go when it breaks, we grow tired of it or decide we want the latest model?

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Did you know e-waste (basically anything with an electrical plug that has been thrown away) is expected to double globally by 2030? Australians have one of the highest disposal rates in the world at just over 21kg per person per year! Unfortunately, official recycling rates are at a low 10%, meaning the vast majority of the electrical equipment we throw away is ending up in landfill, wasting valuable resources.

It’s time to take control of our tech by valuing the resources in our devices and giving them a new life by repairing, selling, sharing and recycling.

Dare to repair

With ‘right to repair’ legislation in Europe there is pressure on manufacturers to move away from built-in obsolescence in our electrical goods, and to design them so that parts can be replaced and they can be taken apart easily for repair.

If your electronics break, it’s worth seeing if they can be repaired before buying a new one. It can save you money as well as extend the life and value of your device or appliance. You can check to see what repair services are available from the manufacturer, certified repairers, retailers and local repair stores. When choosing a repair service, it is important to check that technicians are appropriately trained and provide a repair warranty.

Repair cafes and workshops are becoming more commonplace in Australia, too. You can even take your toaster or kettle in for repair!

Selling and sharing

If your old laptop, mobile phone or game console is still working it’s a great idea to sell it or pass it on to a friend, family member or community support services while it still has value and is desirable to someone else. The longer it is left unused in a drawer or cupboard the more it decreases in value. Keeping these working products in circulation also reduces the need for new or ‘virgin’ resources and maintains their value for longer. You can sell your old electronics through online community marketplaces such as Gumtree.

If you are worried about your data, there are some great tips online on how to safely wipe data from your laptop. MobileMuster has step-by-step videos on how to remove data from both Android mobile phones and iPhones.

Recycling right

Did you know as much as 95% of materials in electronics can be recycled? Secure and safe recycling is important as it ensures hazardous materials are kept out of the environment, and the precious metals and other materials in the equipment are turned into new products. 

Product Stewardship schemes are increasing in Australia which means brands are taking responsibility for their products by paying for their recycling. It also means these schemes are free and accessible to consumers. Below are a list of existing schemes and ways you can recycle your old tech:

  • MobileMuster – accepts all mobile phones and accessories. With the convenience of a post-paid satchel or drop-off locations around the country, there’s no excuse to keep what is estimated to be 5 million broken or old phones in homes around Australia from being recycled.

  • National Computer and Television Recycling Scheme – this scheme provides free and secure recycling of all TVs, computers and accessories with retail and council drop-off options throughout Australia.

  • Cartridges 4 Planet Ark – one of Australia’s longest running and well-known product stewardship schemes, it has recycled over 45 million cartridges and has over 3,500 drop-off locations around Australia.

  • Batteries, whitegoods and other electronics – retailers such as Officeworks, ALDI and IKEA accept household batteries for recycling and it’s always worth checking with manufacturers if they have a take-back scheme for electronics and appliances. Check what council pick-up and drop-off facilities are available in your area by visiting RecyclingNearYou and entering in your post code.

Lastly, never put e-waste in your kerbside recycling bin – with so many other disposal options available, keeping these valuable resources out of landfill is not only easier than ever but can also be good for your wallet as well as the environment.

To find out what’s accepted and where for all of the above and more, visit RecyclingNearYou.com.au.

Learn more about e-waste recycling here.

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Claire Bell

Claire has been working at Planet Ark since 2011. Raising a young family heightened Claire's awareness of environmental issues and making sustainable lifestyle choices. Claire worked for a number of years on our National Tree Day campaign and now has developed her skills and knowledge to deliver our recycling programs.

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