E Waste

What is E-waste?

Electronic waste (or e-waste) is a catch-all phase used to describes discarded electronic, electrical or battery-operated goods. Typically, items include computer equipment, appliances, tools and a vast range of electronic items.

E-waste is generated from homes and offices at a rapidly growing rate. Waste items may or may not be in working order and range from large items such as white goods, smaller appliances e.g. irons, toasters, hairdryers, power tools, etc. to all sorts of electronic items such as computers, mobile phones, televisions and radios.

The Growing Problem of E-waste

There are large quantities of e-waste world-wide (44.7 million tonnes in 2016) and this amount is growing at a rate of approximately 8% per year; according to the Global e-Waste Monitor. Not only is the volume of e-waste growing globally, only around 20% of this massive amount of waste is being recycled.

In Australia we are generating ever increasing amounts of e-waste. Australia is counted amongst the highest users of technology wold-wide, with e-waste growing three times faster than general waste output.

The Recycling Solution

Australia (and the world) is facing a rapidly increasing e-waste disposal problem. We need to actively reduce the amount of e-waste being sent to landfill. The solution is recycling.

Recycling e-waste offers multiple benefits to the environment:

  • Reduces the amount of landfill
  • Reduces environmental pollution caused by dangerous substances ending up in our waterways, soil and air
  • Allows recycling of valuable materials

Hazardous Materials

A lot of e-waste contains heavy metals, in particular lead and mercury, and chemicals such as chlorofluorocarbons and flame retardants which attack the ozone layer.

These chemicals are extremely dangerous in our environment, causing contamination to our waterways, soil and air. Large volumes of e-waste going to landfill increases the problem significantly resulting in non-reversable environmental pollution.

Valuable Materials

E-waste items also contain valuable materials that can be recycled.

Electrical goods contain a variety of valuable materials such as copper, zinc, gold, silver and platinum. While these metals only occur in small amounts, with the right methods they can be extracted, compounded and re-used.

Precious metals are non-renewable, so effective recycling is essential for continued re-use of these metals and components. It is extremely important for the environment and for the sustainability of our natural resources that we recycle these valuable materials.


Victorian Government Ban on E-waste in Landfill

The Victorian Government has banned dumping of e-waste in landfill in Victoria. This amendment to the Waste Management Policy (E-waste) became effective as of 1 July 2019.

In Australia e-waste is growing three times faster than other general waste streams. E-waste includes a variety of electrical or battery powered items that we use and discard from our homes and offices. Items include televisions, computers, mobile phones, appliances, tools and white goods. They contain both hazardous materials and chemicals, which are dangerous to the environment and humans, and valuable materials which are scarce and should be recovered and recycled.

Poor management of e-waste is hazardous to the environment and human health. Dumping and stockpiling of e-waste can result in fire and soil contamination. Dangerous chemicals leach into the soil over time and end up in our waterways causing irreversible damage.

E-waste in Landfill: Environmental Impact

A lot of e-waste contains heavy metals, in particular lead and mercury, and chemicals such as chlorofluorocarbons and flame retardants which attack the ozone layer.

These chemicals are extremely dangerous in our environment, causing contamination to our waterways, soil and air. Large volumes of e-waste going to landfill causes significant, non-reversable environmental pollution.

Alternative E-waste Disposal

The ban on e-waste in landfill promotes best practice and continuous improvement in waste disposal and the way in which landfill and e-waste is managed in Victoria. This regulation will prevent large quantities of e-waste being dumped in landfill and importantly, will help to increase the practice of resource recovery and recycling.

Through an assessment and consultation process, the Victoria Government has concluded that more appropriate waste management options are available for e-waste disposal, and encourages sustainable practices such as recycling and resource recovery.

This important amendment to the Waste Management Policy (E-waste) aims to reduce e-waste from landfill, increase resource recovery and ensure e-waste is managed in way that minimises risk to the environment and human health.