Victoria counts down to e-waste landfill ban
From 1 July 2019 a Victorian Government ban on e-waste in any bin or landfill site will take effect, making Victoria the third Australian state to ban e-waste from landfill. Following the ban, local councils, businesses and consumers must ensure that used, broken or obsolete products with a plug or battery are re-used or recycled.
Communities and governments are looking to manufacturers and retailers of electrical and electronic goods to provide consumer-friendly options that enable re-use and repair rather than premature disposal.
Efforts have been made by the state government to increase the number of convenient e-waste collection points to complement existing industry-funded schemes like MobileMuster, Cartridges 4 Planet Ark and the National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme.
Ewaste Watch director and co-founder Rose Read noted that there are multiple benefits to banning e-waste from landfill.
“E-waste landfill bans not only increase recovery and recycling rates, they also serve to educate the community about consumption and how we can re-use and recycle electronics,” she said.
“While many of the materials found in e-waste are recyclable, they are also a finite resource, and some are quite scarce. This means we have to also slow the rate of use of these materials by maximising the functional life [of] electrical and electronic goods, and increasing their durability.
“Keeping e-waste out of bins and landfills also helps reduce the growing incidence of fires caused by batteries often found in e-waste. It will help reduce the contamination of other recyclable waste streams as well.”
Another important consideration is whether local councils, who must implement the ban, will be able to field questions from the community and provide collection services that meet the expectations of residents and businesses. Without this, an increase in illegal dumping, problematic stockpiling and general non-compliance with the ban are possible outcomes.
John Gertsakis, director and co-founder of Ewaste Watch, believes that the landfill ban is only one part of the solution and that the federal government must urgently expand the National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme to include all electronic and electrical products not covered by an industry product stewardship scheme.
“The Victorian ban is an important first step, but local councils need much more support to make the ban environmentally beneficial and socially acceptable. Councils need the support of manufacturers, brands and retailers to ensure recycling is free and that community-friendly options are provided for electronics re-use, repair and recycling,” Gertsakis said.
“The federal Coalition in its election promises committed $20m to product stewardship. Its priority should be to implement regulated schemes for all e-waste, including batteries, under the Product Stewardship Act where effective voluntary schemes do not exist.
“The ultimate success of the ban will only be realised if we have complementary industry-funded systems and infrastructure to recover, re-use, repair, refurbish or recycle unwanted electronics,” he stated.
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