What is E-Waste?
If it’s got a plug, battery or cord and is unwanted, it’s e-waste. It could be any of a whole range of items from work, home or even the garden shed. From old phones, computers and household appliances to power tools and toys.
E-waste is full of valuable resources we can reuse, as well as some nasty materials that are bad for the environment. Rather than putting it in the bin and sending it to landfill, we should take it to a better place where we can remove the bad and save the good.
Electronic waste is growing up to three times faster than general municipal waste. The good news is that e-waste is more than 95 per cent recyclable. For example, old mobile phones can be recycled to make stainless steel goods, new batteries and even plastic fence posts.
Why Recycle It?
There are many reasons why you should recycle e-waste.
It’s good for the environment.
All e-waste products can contain hazardous materials. Ranging from heavy metals like lead, mercury and cadmium to ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons (CFCS) and flame retardants.
Even in small amounts, these dangerous chemicals can cause environmental contamination.
But when you multiply it by the millions of e-waste items being left in landfills, the situation becomes much more serious.
It’s good to recover and reuse.
E-waste also contains a whole range of valuable materials, including tin, nickel, zinc, aluminium, copper, silver, gold and plastic.
A million mobile phones contain an estimated 15–16 tonnes of copper, 340–350 kilograms of silver and 24–34 kilograms of gold. When you consider there are more than 22 million discarded mobile handsets in Australia and growing, we’re throwing away a lot of precious resources.
Keep it out of landfill.
In 2016, 44.7 million metric tonnes of e-waste was generated worldwide. Of this enormous figure, only about 20 per cent, or 8.9 million metric tonnes was recycled. The rest ended up in landfill. Hazardous and precious metals aside, this huge volume of ‘stuff’ we’re trying to hide underground is not sustainable. When you think about all the other rubbish that goes to landfill, keeping e-waste out is a much smarter idea.