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How should your business dispose of e-waste?

How should your business dispose of e-waste?

E-waste contains a variety of materials considered hazardous. However, it also contains products that are ideal for reuse, so it's important to have processes in place for proper disposal. We consider what constitutes electronic waste and what your options are when it comes to getting rid of it in a responsible manner.


What is it?

Electronic waste (e-waste) can be defined as any electrical goods, devices or components that you no longer want, or have already thrown away. For example, computers, televisions, mobiles and fax machines. Each year, Australia generates around 106,000 tonnes of e-waste and currently only 10-17 per cent is diverted away from landfill.

This waste can take many years to break down, if at all, and can contain toxic chemicals that leach into the ground and cause illness – for example, mercury, lead and lithium. Even short-term exposure to high levels of lead can result in vomiting and diarrhea.

Instead of sending e-waste to the dump, components from electronics can be reused to make new products.

How to dispose of it

There are several ways your business can dispose of e-waste. Some local and state governments provide e-waste recycling services for both residents and businesses, which typically include televisions, printers, scanners, keyboards and computer monitors. Residents in South Australia, for example, can drop off a variety of electronic devices at several specified locations in metropolitan and regional areas.

Private collections

Some private and not-for-profit organisations will collect e-waste from your business premises, which is ideal if you have a lot to get rid of and don’t have time to take it to a collection centre.

You may need to pay for these services, with the cost depending on how much you have and the size of the goods. Some companies can also help with data destruction on computers and laptops, which is important if you’re getting rid of computers that have stored company data.

Batteries

Although they are small and can be discarded easily, batteries from electronics can and should be recycled. This includes batteries from laptops, mobiles, video cameras and smaller items, such as torches, calculators and smoke alarms.

There are a number of recycling services available throughout Australia designed to keep batteries out of landfill. SITA is one such organisation, and for a small fee will deliver a battery recycling container to your office for you to display in a prominent area. Once it's full, the company will collect the container and provide a replacement.

You can also drop off batteries at some collection centres and even some electronics retailers.

Mobile phones

Instead of throwing old mobiles in the rubbish bin, you can send them by post to be recycled. For example, the City of Melbourne can send you a prepaid satchel to put your phone in and send back for recycling.

Around Australia, you can also drop your devices off at some mobile phone shops to be reused in other products.

Retailer collections

Some retailers will happily accept unwanted electronics that their company originally produced. For instance, the Apple Recycling Program will help you dispose of old Apple products, as well as some devices produced by other manufacturers.

You can drop off up to five e-waste items at Officeworks locations around Australia. You can also leave printer cartridges, mobile phones and batteries at the retailer’s stores. 

More information

For more information on e-waste, read Clean Up Australia's fact sheet or the Australian Bureau of Statistics' website with information on electronic and electrical waste.

E-waste is a big problem in Australia, with businesses and consumers buying new products at a staggering rate. However, by learning how to dispose of your e-waste in a responsible manner, you can contribute to a more sustainable, environmentally friendly future.

Being more environmentally conscious can be good for your bottom line as well as the planet. Find out about some of the many business benefits of going green.

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