Think tank to combat e-waste

Thursday, 11 April, 2019

Think tank to combat e-waste

A new independent think tank — Ewaste Watch — is launching in Australia to tackle the nation’s accumulating e-waste.

Collaborating with research partner the Institute for Sustainable Futures at UTS, Ewaste Watch aims to accelerate the sustainability of electronic devices by addressing the complete life cycle.

Ewaste Watch Director and Co-founder Rose Read said Ewaste Watch will inform, educate, engage and activate key stakeholders across the electronics life cycle from design and manufacturing through to retail, government and the general public. “Business as usual and voluntary programs have barely made a dent in the total volume of e-waste arising, so the urgency for step-change improvement, new business models and positive disruption is now overwhelmingly obvious.

“Circular solutions for electronics across the complete product life cycle is a cornerstone for Ewaste Watch, as is the need to empower consumers to buy less, choose well and make it last,” she continued.

Ewaste Watch activities will include attention to social and consumer aspects, product design, cleaner production, smart logistics, innovative consumption models (eg, sharing economy and collaborative consumption), re-use, repair and recycling. The think tank aims to achieve this through knowledge sharing, policy analysis, consumer education, exhibitions and public activations.

According to Ewaste Watch Director and Co-founder John Gertsakis, there is a lack of effective collaboration, research and action on how to effectively deal with the rapid growth of electronics and associated socio-environmental impacts. Most activities are limited to recycling, with no real focus on addressing the impact of the scarce and non-renewable materials used in electronics.

“Ewaste Watch is driven by three key questions: are we doing enough; can we do better; and what are the solutions beyond recycling?” Gertsakis said.

“Electrical and electronic products are proliferating in society. They saturate our existence — how we work, live and play. They are often essential devices that bring functional utility, improved safety and much needed convenience. In many ways they have become an extension of us that we take for granted.

“The reality, however, is that recycling alone will not deliver the sustainable outcomes and materials conservation required. Greater attention is needed on product durability, re-use, repair, sharing and productive material use to turn the tide on e-waste and create circular electronics.”

In Australia, the National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme regulated under the Commonwealth Product Stewardship Act has collected and recycled 291,280 tonnes (about 42% of waste arising) of TV and computer e-waste since its inception in 2011. The Ewaste Watch Institute is calling on the Federal Environment Minister to expand the scheme to include all products with a plug or battery to ensure that end-of-life electronics are diverted from landfill and responsibly recycled.

Ewaste Watch will be officially launched at the UTS Institute for Sustainable Futures by Craig Reucassel, presenter of the ABC TV series War on Waste.

Image credit: ©

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