One of the changes we are starting to see around the world as the interest in reducing our environmental impact continues to grow is the idea of the right to repair – particularly for electronic and electrical gadgets and items that we have in our households. IN short it is the impact of our consumption of gadgets.
At present, when our smartphones, televisions or other gadgets stop working, it seems like the only choice we have is to get rid of it. This never-ending stream of electronic waste has created a combination of valuable recyclable materials and hazardous materials.
That’s why consumers and lawmakers in the U.S. and Europe are fighting back under the burgeoning “Right to Repair” movement that demands manufacturers make products that last longer and are easier to fix. We are starting to see a growing movement in Australia too.
This sort of change can’t come soon enough. E-waste is the fastest-growing waste stream in the world. In 2016, some 44.7 million metric tonnes of e-waste were generated globally. As more and more products come along, experts forecast an increase of e-waste to 52.2 million metric tonnes by 2021.
In Victoria we will see the introduction of a ban on e-waste going to landfill as of 1 July and that means everything from your electric toothbrush to your smart phone to your TV, microwave, battery operated toys and any electrical kitchen gadget – in short anything with a battery or a cord. This means it cannot go in either of your kerbside bins – landfill or recycling. These items will need to be dropped off at local transfer stations or at other locations that councils organise for their residents. In Horsham there are already 2 e-waste stations at the Civic Centre and the Library.
With all this in mind it is important that we make sure we educate the community in a number of areas.
- Ethical and sustainable Consumption – ask yourself do I really need to have this gadget?
- Looking after your stuff – making smartphone batteries last longer, ensuring laptops and computers are managed for longevity.
- How can I repair it? Are there local repairers or is there a local repair café operating? If not can we start one?
- Finally – how do I dispose of it?
Repair Cafes are starting to pop up in a lot of communities now and there is some support available from them through Grampians Central West Waste & Resource Recovery Group’s Can Do Communities Program. We’re happy to work with Men’s Sheds or other groups to get them happening. They will usually repair things such as furniture, toys, household items – electrical items are dependent on having someone with the requisite skill set.