A recipe for a successful national e-waste recycling program

As New Zealand considers the benefits of product stewardship and its impact on e-waste recycling, ANZRP CEO Warren Overton sets out the critical elements for a successful national e-waste recycling program based on the Australian experience.

 

Last month we launched our TechCollect pilot e-waste recycling program just across the ditch in New Zealand.

Operating through the OfficeMax retail network, TechCollect provides 16 drop-off points across New Zealand where people can take their unwanted e-waste for recycling completely free of charge.

Already we've had an astounding level of interest, with hundreds of visits to our new website and enquiries rolling in by the dozen. This is indicative of the New Zealand public's appetite for responsible and accessible e-waste recycling, a void that has to this point not been filled. Unlike its Australian and overseas counterparts, the country has struggled to better manage the increasing volume of e-waste generated annually - a recent report from the International Telecommunications Union shows kiwis are among the world's worst offenders, producing an estimated 20kg per person per year.

 

Product stewardship is key

Australia's approach to managing the growing issue of e-waste is founded on the notion of product stewardship. This concept acknowledges that those involved in producing, selling and using products have a shared responsibility to ensure that those products or materials are managed in a way that reduces their impact, throughout their life cycle, on the environment and on human health and safety.

A key pillar of Australia's National Waste Policy is the Product Stewardship Act 2011. Established under the Act, the National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme (NTCRS) was Australia’s first producer responsibility arrangement. Under the scheme, more than 1,800 collection services have been made available to the public and 230,000 tonnes of TV and computer e-waste collected and recycled. 130,000 tonnes of that has been managed by ANZRP's flagship program TechCollect.

In recent years, the New Zealand Government has twice investigated e-waste product stewardship and on both occasions was unable to establish a long term industry funded program.

Technology industry ready to participate

Despite New Zealand's lack of regulatory enforcement, major players in the electronics industry have just committed to funding our TechCollect pilot e-waste recycling program. Microsoft, Toshiba, HP, Epson, Dell and Canon have all pledged funds to the pilot, which has been a major driver in getting the program off the ground.

The quick commitment from these world-leading organisations shows their eagerness to uphold their corporate social responsibility status, and position themselves as leaders on this issue. They understand the importance of environmental and social sustainability to their brand and are ready with their cheque book to support initiatives that shine a light on their commitment.

Key elements of a successful e-waste recycling program

Fundamental to a thriving e-waste recycling program is a model where industry covers costs of collection and recycling. The ideal approach is through a liability-based fee in a competitive environment that encourages cost competition.

Other critical factors include:

Government funding — Sufficient government funding for e-waste product stewardship is required to ensure effective program management, audit and enforcement of requirements, and promotion of the program to the whole community. Underfunding allows liable parties to avoid compliance and diminishes community engagement with the program.

Competition — Competition is good for logistics and recycling yet is counterproductive for collection as it can create duplication and inefficiencies. Due to the small size of the New Zealand market, the number of organisations engaged to deliver an e-waste product stewardship program should be limited to reduce administrative costs.

Scope — To gain the benefits of scale, for both logistics and processing, as wide a scope as possible is recommended for an e-waste product stewardship program. Under Australia’s NTCRS, only televisions, computers, printers and computer peripherals are accepted. Even though this created a pool of easily identifiable parties, making it easier to manage, inclusion of all waste electronic and electrical equipment (WEEE) would increase the amount of liable parties and exponentially increase the volume targets, guaranteeing greater economies of scale.

Collection network — Vital to its success, a collection network must include a broad spectrum of partners, including local councils, retail providers (such as electrical goods retailers) and private recycling owner-operated sites and community facilities. Aside from maintaining the reach of the service, they also serve an important role helping educate the public through their regular interactions.

Education — It’s important for people to understand the process of recycling e-waste and where they can responsibly dispose of it, knowing that it will be managed to the highest standards in accordance with the regulatory and legislative requirements. To achieve this, a simple and consistent approach is necessary — only government can fill this requirement. After seven years, the Australian public still does not have a strong understanding of e-waste and what can be done. Government needs to take the lead and project clear and consistent messaging.

Recycling partners – Competition is good and should not be limited to a few. Strict standards need to be enforced, ensuring downstream vendor due diligence and material traceability is achieved. All recyclers who serve the program are required to meet certain standards such as compliance to AS/NZS 5377:2013 and HSE legislation, and are regularly audited to ensure reporting volumes are correct.

 

Now entering its seventh year and despite some issues that need to be ironed out, Australia's NTCRS has been acknowledged as a resounding success. Product stewardship underpinned by accessibility, collaboration, transparency and trust — these are the critical elements that form a successful e-waste recycling program.

ANZRP would welcome the New Zealand Government’s participation into our pilot program, and the prospect of matching program funding to help lengthen and facilitate its ongoing success.

To find out more about our TechCollect pilot in New Zealand go to www.techcollect.nz.


Man lifting old computer from skip bin for recycling

ANZRP meets all FY 16/17 Regulatory targets

ANZRP’s FY 16/17 Annual Report is now published on both the Federal Government and our websites. You can view it here.

We are proud to announce that we have met both Regulatory targets of the National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme (NTCRS) – Recycling and Reasonable Access - and continue to maintain quality standards in a high cost-pressure environment. We also recovered over 95% of the commodities in the e-waste we collected, which is above the Scheme’s Material Recovery Target of 90%.

ANZRP is committed to making an active contribution to the enhancement and progression of product stewardship in Australia; and supporting our Members, not only with their obligations under the NTCRS, but representing them in broader product stewardship and thought leadership activities.

Education is key to driving change, which is why we invest significantly in broad-scale marketing to create community awareness and understanding of the importance of e-waste recycling and to re-evaluate the "take, make and dispose” extractive industrial model.

If you have any questions about the Annual Report, please don’t hesitate to contact us.


Out of focus image of office cubicles with a recycling bin in focus in the foreground

5 ways recycling e-waste can benefit your business

An essential part of running a business is to keep up to date with technology, which requires periodically updating your electronic devices. However, the old devices that have been replaced pose a problem for many small businesses — what do you do with the old tech when you replace it?

While throwing old cables and computers out with your general office waste may seem like the easy answer, the better business decision is to responsibly recycle your old or unused electronics.

Recent research commissioned by TechCollect revealed that 83% of Australians weren’t sure where they could recycle e-waste. And 58% said they didn’t want to pay to have devices properly recycled. You’re not alone when it comes to the issue of e-waste in your office; many businesses just aren’t aware of the real benefits of recycling e-waste, or how to start. It’s much easier than you think — here’s what you need to know:

1. Make a positive difference to the environment

The most obvious, yet greatest benefit of recycling e-waste is the positive impact it has on our environment. Many electronic devices contain heavy metals like lead and mercury, which can be extremely harmful to both land and water. Recycling these devices ensures materials don’t end up in landfill, and are instead correctly and safely recovered and recycled.

Electronic devices also contain non-renewable resources, which, if recycled correctly, can be recovered and re-used in the manufacturing of new products. Keeping resources in use is the best outcome and leads to a circular economy.

Recycling is often viewed as a civic duty; however, it is just as important for businesses to consider their environmental impact as part of their daily practice. This is not only beneficial to the environment, but is often expected by consumers, clients and employees.

2. Happy employees

Did you know more than three-quarters of Australian employees want business owners to take more action when it comes to recycling workplace technology?1

With environmental concerns increasing among Australians, employees are beginning to expect recycling e-waste to be common practice in the workplace. In fact, an increasing number of prospective employees are looking to work for businesses that operate under ethical policies and actively make business decisions in which positive environmental outcomes are a priority.

Beyond recruitment, sustainable workplace policies help retain current employees — keeping them happier, productive and more engaged.

3. Improve your brand reputation

Showing your commitment to the environment can strengthen your reputation with current and prospective customers. Recent research shows businesses and brands with a demonstrated commitment to sustainability outperform those who don’t2.

It’s becoming increasingly common to select your business partners based on their ethical standing as organisations. Businesses which actively strive to have a positive impact on the environment make more desirable business partners and a compelling choice for customers. Implementing e-waste recycling is a simple way to enhance your business’s green credentials.

4. Declutter the office

Old and unused electronic devices are often sitting at the back of cupboards gathering dust, or you may even have shelves or the corner of an office dedicated to old technology storage. Not only will recycling your old e-waste benefit the environment — by reducing landfill and the need to mine new resources — but you’ll also have a clean, decluttered office, which ultimately improves efficiency and harmony in the office!

5. Lower business costs

Recycling also has a significant and tangible impact on your bottom line. Did you know that recycling is less expensive than waste removal fees, which are measured by weight?

It is important to choose both a cost-effective and reputable recycling program for your business. Some organisations, including TechCollect, which is dedicated to setting the highest standard of Australian recycling, will collect and recycle your business’s e-waste for free.

What about your data?

Our recent research revealed 52% of Australians are not recycling their IT e-waste due to concerns about security of data.

In fact, personal data was highlighted as a key concern twice, with 64% of respondents also stating they don’t recycle their e-waste because they worry their data will get into the wrong hands. This number has increased by 25% in just two years.

In this technological age, it’s understandable to be concerned about data security and privacy. However, it is relatively simple to permanently remove your data from your company’s electronic devices before they are safely recycled. All you need to do is search online for data wiping services or software, or check with the product manufacturer on how to delete your data. There are also secure commercial services that specialise in data deletion. Be proactive in your data management and don’t let it be a barrier to doing the right thing by the environment!

How do I start?

Below is a simple, step-by-step process to recycle IT e-waste in your office:

  1. Get the whole team involved.
  2. Gather all your unwanted and unused IT e-waste from around the workplace.
  3. Remove your data: search online for data deletion services or software or check with the manufacturer of your product to discover how to delete your data.
  4. If you have a significant amount of e-waste, call TechCollect on 1300 229 837 to see if your small business qualifies for a free pick-up. TechCollect will take IT and TVs; check out http://techcollect.com.au/what-we-take.
  5. Or, find your nearest free drop-off point at http://techcollect.com.au/our-locations/. If you can’t find a TechCollect service near you, check out http://recyclingnearyou.com.au.
  6. Drop off your e-waste, and enjoy your new decluttered office and shining business reputation!

References

1Planet Ark, 2016. National Recycling Week. So You Think You Can Recycle Report, http://recyclingweek.planetark.org/documents/doc-1451-nrw-2016-report-so-you-think-you-can-recycle.pdf

2http://businessrecycling.com.au/research/business-case-competetive-edge.cfm

By Warren Overton, CEO, Australia and New Zealand Recycling Platform

Originally published on Tuesday, 27 February, 2018 by Sustainability Matters


Old computer screens for recycling

ANZRP launches White Paper at Parliament House

August 2017 marked the launch of ANZRP’s White Paper, which includes many recommended changes to the Product Stewardship Act for consideration during its five-year Regulatory review. On behalf of the Minister for the Environment and Energy, Tim Wilson MP, Federal Member for Goldstein, joined ANZRP’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Carmel Dollisson to officially launch the White Paper, which outlines how ANZRP believes the current legislation can be improved to create better recycling practices in Australia.

L-R Mark Mackay, ANZRP Chairman, Independent Director, Tim Wilson, MP, Federal Member for Goldstein and Carmel Dollisson, ANZRP CEO

You can view and download a copy of the White Paper here.

Carmel Dollisson, CEO, ANZRP, explains that ANZRP’s mission has always been to create a community that collects, processes and safely recycles e-waste (electronic waste) for responsible environment outcomes.

“With the changing e-waste landscape, we strongly believe the Review of the Act is key to improving product stewardship in Australia. It is vital for increasing transparency, innovation and economic opportunity in the recycling industry.

“With July marking the sixth anniversary of the Act, we are pleased to have the opportunity to provide an informed industry perspective on how the Scheme is working and ways in which it can be enhanced, updated and improved.

“We have captured the insights of our member companies and our own experience in the White Paper to ensure changes made to the Act deliver the best outcomes for business, local communities and the environment.”

The White Paper details numerous recommendations for the Government Regulator to consider, including:

  • Expanding the products collected
  • A greater level of shared responsibility by all stakeholders in the product lifecycle
  • Greater transparency within the Scheme itself
  • Redefining the volume of available e-waste
  • Educating the public on the benefits of product stewardship
Carmel Dollission, ANZRP CEO

“The core principle of good product stewardship is that everyone involved in producing, selling, using and disposing of products has a shared responsibility to ensure those products are responsibly recycled.

“That principle has been behind our development of the White Paper. We’re very hopeful that the Review will facilitate greater collaboration and ensure confidence in the e-waste recycling industry.”

To read the White Paper in full, click here.


Old computer screens for recycling

Regulator publishes 2013/14 reports

The Regulator of the National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme (NTCRS), the Commonwealth Department of the Environment, has just released the Scheme’s 2013/14 Annual Reports for each of the Co-regulatory Arrangements (CAs), as well as its own Outcomes document.

The 2013/14 was a highly successful one for ANZRP and its TechCollect program, in which all regulatory targets were successfully met.  We have since just completed our 2014/15 year.

ANZRP’s 2013/14 Annual Report focuses specifically on our work as the largest CA under the Scheme, while the Regulator’s Outcomes document has broader information about the Scheme’s activities.


Computers stacked together for recycling

Minister announces NTCRS changes

Yesterday (10 June) Minister for the Environment Greg Hunt released the outcome of the NTCRS review.

There was some indication that the targets may increase, and this has been reflected in the outcome, with Option 3 (of the different options under consideration) to be adopted.

The key points of the changes are:

  • Recycling target to increase in 2015/16 to 50% or an estimated 10,050 additional tonnes – 53,000+ tonnes in total
  • Over four years, an additional 32,279 tonnes of e-waste to be recycled
  • Product weight conversion factors to be “fairer and more affordable” for liable parties, saving $71M over next the next 10 years
  • The Australian Standard will be mandated, however recyclers will have until 1 July 2016 to become certified to the standard

The Minister acknowledged “the vital role of the television and computer industries in funding the scheme”.

ANZRP will issue further information and feedback about the announcement in due course.