From the 1st of July 2019, the state of Victoria banned e-waste from entering landfill. This is no surprise considering the amount of e-waste we are generating is growing up to three times faster than general waste. Our tech-FOMO is having a serious effect on our environment and while I am a lover and user of technology myself (I had to write this blog somehow, right?) I definitely support this ban and want to support you in making the responsible choice when it comes to disposing of your electronics.
What is e-waste?
E-waste refers to electronic waste, which is classified as anything with a battery or a powder cord. It can be broken or in fully working order. E-waste includes CD players, computers, fridges, mobile phones, monitors, printers, toasters, televisions and VCR’s (I know we all have one of those knocking around at home) and more. Due to consumer demand and some electrical products being made with short lifespans we are rapidly dumping more and more e-waste, which contain hazardous materials that are harmful to the environment.
You may think that your e-waste is useless, but actually there are a few ways you can reduce and even re-use your electronics…
Reduce your e-waste: Buying second hand electronics is great for your wallet and the environment.
The first thing you can do to minimise your waste starts before you have even made a purchase. Are you looking for a new phone, gaming console or laptop? Chances are you can find the exact model you want second hand on websites like GumTree, Depop, Ebay and Facebook Marketplace. I found my current phone second hand on GumTree and it was barely used. I even got a chance to meet the seller and test that everything was in working order. The model I bought had only been available for 6 -12 months and would have been way more expensive to buy in store or with a sim contract. I also recently bid on a second hand drawing tablet on eBay so that I can grow my design hustle without having to buy anything new.
If you have perfectly fine electronics that are no longer useful to you it is always worth putting them up for sale on one of these websites to make sure they can be useful for as long as possible, or you can even list it for free!
Reduce your E-Waste: Responsibility when buying new
If you are buying new make sure the electronics are RoHS compliant. This means the electronics do not contain (or contain a restricted amounts of) ten hazardous materials found in electronic products. The restricted materials are hazardous to the environment and pollute landfills. Plus they are dangerous in terms of occupational exposure during manufacturing and recycling.
Additionally, think about making the most of your electronics by repairing them: PC’s are able to be built in your own home, therefore there are straight forward ways to take things apart, fix and rebuild. If you want to buy Apple products however these tend to look pretty sleek but they are a lot harder to repair and a lot more expensive to repair at certified Apple repair shops. However if you do fancy fixing your apple product, this guy has amazing videos to help you through the process.
Reduce your e-waste: Fix what you have
A few years ago I snapped my phone screen when I decided to take a photo lying gracefully on some rocks. I failed to realise that in doing so I also put all of my weight onto my phone screen and upon hearing a small but definite cracking noise, realised my mistake.
I never would have imagined myself capable of fixing my own phone screen, but my partner convinced me to try. I was able to order the pieces I needed from eBay for a fraction of the price it would have cost to pay someone else to fix my phone, and after a YouTube tutorial I actually figured out how to replace my phone screen! The process was so much simpler than I thought it would be and I was proud of myself for having done it… I did however choose a budget option when buying the replacement screen and it wasn’t long until it snapped again and I had to repeat the process. You can learn from my mistakes if you like.
If fixing isn’t something you envision yourself doing, there are companies that will fix phones and other tech on your behalf. I recommend finding a local store or company online that you deem trustworthy, since most of the repair shops in shopping centres can overcharge by hundreds of dollars.
Reduce your E-Waste: Repair Cafe’s
Repair Cafe’s are popping up all over the globe and will happily fix your phone or any other gadget for free. They also fix clothing, jewellery, and can help with tech issues. There are currently 2036 Repair Cafe’s world wide, with 42 currently in Australia and 4 in New Zealand. Their website makes it easy to find a cafe close to you, and if you can’t find one, you can always make one! We popped to our local Repair Cafe to get some advice on fixing our lawn mower, and while I was there I saw various volunteers fix toasters, vacuum cleaners, earrings, clothing, bikes and more.
Recycling your E-Waste: Sell or give it away
First and foremost, if your tech is still in working order I want you to consider selling it on, donating it, or giving it away. If you can sell your electronics, Facebook Marketplace, Depop, Gumtree and eBay are all great options. If you want to give away something try out the app Olio, which enables you to post anything you want (including food items) and usually someone interested will message you and collect your items within just a few days. For more free Apps that can help reduce waste, check out this blog post.
Recycling E-Waste: Computers, TV’s and monitors
Thanks to the Australian Government’s National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme, there are heaps of places across Victoria that will happily recycle your TV’s and computers for free. One good website to check out is techcollect.com.au, who make it easy to find the closest drop off locations near you and even lets you know when they’re open. TechCollect will happily accept the following:
- Personal and laptop computers and all cables
- Tablets, notebooks and palmtops
- Computer monitors and parts (e.g. internal hard drives and CD drives)
- Computer peripherals and accessories (e.g. mice, keyboards, web cameras, USBs)
- Printers, faxes, scanners and multi-functional devices
- All televisions
Recycling your E-Waste: Mobile Phones & Accessories
If you have an old drawer full of cables and dusty flip phones, don’t worry. It’s a common problem. But there are several locations that will lovingly accept your old phone, and all the crap that comes with it. Mobile Muster makes it easy to find collection points close to you, and accepts:
- All makes and models of mobile phones
- Mobile phone batteries
- Mobile chargers and accessories
- Mobile wireless internet devices
- Smart watches and fitness trackers
They also have handy guides on how to erase your phones data so that nothing personal is left on your devices. Plus if you are unable to get to a drop off location you can submit a pick-up request instead here.
Recycling your E-Waste: Large electronic goods
Large items (not including TV’s) may be a little harder to recycle, and will charge you a fee so they can recycle it. KTS Recycling accepts most e-waste free of charge, but large items such as fridges and air conditioners require a $10 fee per item.
Additionally, did you know KTS Recycling also have a Treasure Chest store at each centre containing all the best items that were destined for landfill. These items are available for sale with part of their sales going straight to kids charity Variety Victoria and includes anything from pianos and sofas to DVD’s and games.
If you still have some electronics left over here is how you can recycle them:
- Household batteries can be recycled at Aldi and Batteryworld stores.
- Light bulbs and florescent tubes can be recycled at council-operated transfer stations.
- Printer cartridges can be recycled at Officeworks, and many public collection sites around Australia for Cartridges 4 Planet Ark.
Depending on your area, you can also book for your hard rubbish to be collected on your curbside. This is ideal if you are having a clear out and have a lot to dispose of. In my area, each house is allocated 2 collection slots throughout the year, however in other areas you may have very specific days where hard rubbish will be collected. Below is a list of everything that is accepted (in my suburb). E-waste can be included, and recycled via your hard rubbish collection!
For more information about the e-waste education campaign, visit Sustainability Victoria’s e-waste website.