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Wednesday, 24 April 2013 12:10

E-waste world record attempt underway

TechCollect CEO Carmel Dollisson TechCollect CEO Carmel Dollisson ANZRP

Australians are being urged to help set a new world record for the most e-waste collected for recycling to tackle the nation’s fastest growing waste problem.

Australia’s biggest recycling program for old computers, printers and TVs, TechCollect, is driving a free recycling initiative to recycle e-waste responsibly and keep them out of landfill.

The TechCollect program builds upon the success of established initiatives where manufacturers take responsibility for the products they create such as 'Cartridges 4 Planet Ark'
and MobileMuster that Australians have been recycling with for years.

We interviewed TechCollect CEO Carmel Dollisson to talk about the world record attempt, being held between April 20 and 28, and we find out what everyday Aussies could be doing to do their bit when it comes to recycling.

Why is e-waste such a big problem at the moment?

E-waste is a growing problem in Australia, and indeed globally due to the increasing use and adoption of new technologies. E-waste is growing three times faster than any other type of waste and currently only 10-17% is of e-waste generated is recycled in Australia.

The analogue to digital switch is adding to the already growing level of e-waste to be recycled.

Electrical and electronic products contain a complex mix of materials, components and substances. Once dismantled, some components in televisions and computers are classed as hazardous. They include substances such as mercury, lead, cadmium, beryllium, chlorine, bromine and phosphors. The beauty here is that 90% of the materials from these products can be recovered and be reused in the manufacture of new products. This saving the mining of new resources and avoiding the products being wasted and sent to landfill or if poorly treated allowing the release of hazardous substances into the environment and/or endangering the health of workers.

More recently, the digital switchover has resulted in a mountain of TVs being dropped off to TechCollect sites in South Australia, and we're expecting the same in other States and Territories.

This is why the government has responded with the National E-Waste policy, to keep e-waste out of landfill and increase our national recycling rates, and why TechCollect is focused on recycling e-waste responsibly to the highest safety and environmental standards..

Should the government be doing more to raise awareness of this or does the responsibility lie with consumers/households?

We all have are responsibility for the products we use to ensure they don’t have a negative impact on the environment, we are rapidly increasing the awareness
of what the community can do with products and how easy it is to do the right thing and drop off product for free recycling (funded by the manufacturers of
the products).

It's the joint responsibility of all approved arrangements and the government to raise awareness of e-waste recycling with households and small businesses.

So far, the majority of the referrals to our TechCollect website havecome from the government's e-waste pages, so we know it's a popular spot for consumers to find out about our recycling services. We also get a lot of traffic from search terms or via social media, so people have been finding us on their own when they want to recycle their old TVs or computers. We're also putting a big effort into raising awareness and action on recycling with TechCollect's world record attempt this month.

Is there a previous world record you're trying to break or is this an entirely new initiative?

There are numerous records around e-waste none akin to the most consumer electronics collected for recycling in 7 days, so are aiming to set a new world record.

For more, continue on to page two.

Which company is the biggest backer of TechCollect, if any?

We've had fantastic support from all our member companies, we provide an equitable arrangement regardless of member size or product mix.

We represent nearly 80% of the IT manufacturers and about 15% of the TV manufacturers so we represent the majority share of the manufacturers.

ANZRP/TechCollect is a by industry-for industry arrangement, which means we work to ensure that the industry’s interest are addressed and the scheme operates efficiently
and effectively for our members.

The Board is made up of six elected member representatives and two independent directors, the Board sets the governance and decision making for ANZRP.

Members are kept regularly informed with newsletters and through member forums where all members are invited to discuss current progress and future direction.

Is there a reason TechCollect won't be collecting microwaves, power tools or whitegoods?

We are governed by our Government approval under the Product Stewardship (TVs and Computers) Regulations to collect regulated product which is TVs, computers, printers and computer peripherals. If the range of products included under the legislation increases in the future, then we will respond accordingly.

For product we are unable to accept we recommend people access Planet Ark's Recycling Near You website (www.recyclingnearyou.com.au), which gives Australians options for recycling a wide range of household products, including microwaves, power tools and whitegoods. We also work closely with MobileMuster to encourage recycling of mobile phones.

Any further comments?

ANZRP/TechCollect's focus is on recycling e-waste responsibly, which meanswe have strict safety and environmental standards across the whole recycling process. All of the recycling companies we use are audited to Australian and international standards. None of the products we collect are shipped overseasfor re-use or re-sale. All of the products dropped off to TechCollect are broken down into material components, which are then used to manufacture new products, conserving precious resources and keeping e-waste out of landfill in Australia and overseas.

We're funded by over 60 of Australia's leading technology companies who are committed to recycling e-waste responsibly.

Year one is about establishing the building blocks and growing the arrangement to be robust and ready for future years, we have made good progress on this and
look forward to the challenges of future years. We're a growing organisation, and so far in the first 10 months of operating we've established over 100 services and are maintaining over 60 permanent TechCollect drop off locations run in partnership with local councils and waste management companies across five states.

We've already met the government's target for reasonable access in our first year and we're well on track to have over 150 services by the end of 2013, covering all States and Territories. We've also held over 100 weekend drop off events in locations where we currently don't have a permanent drop off site, extending our services to more Australians.

We're proud of our track record and all we've achieved in our first year of operation, which can be a challenging time for any start-up organisation.

The community is key to the success of the scheme, by taking a responsible approach to waste disposal they ensure that product is recycled and not sent to landfill or off-shore.

It is easy to drop-off product at the growing number of services and it is free due to the funding by manufacturers. Placing e- waste on the kerb-side or in a bin will not get it recycled and may damage the environment.


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