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


Cords and cables for recycling

Waste Not Want Not Day: Save the Date! Thursday 8 December

Does your office have a lot of unused and unwanted IT?

For the second year running, ANZRP’s TechCollect program is calling on Australian businesses to mark a date in their calendar and play a part in building a sustainable future by recycling their unwanted e-waste on 8 December.

Follow these three easy steps to get involved on the day:

1. Gather all your unwanted electronics
2. Call 1300 229 837 to see if you qualify for a free pickup
3. Otherwise, find your nearest free drop-off point at http://techcollect.com.au/our-locations/

As a reminder, we collect:

• All computers and tablets
• All computer peripherals and accessories
• All printers, faxes, scanners and multifunctional devices
• All televisions

To get the word out and inform all your colleagues, download a Save the Date poster for your workplace!


Computers stacked together for recycling

TechCollect Kicks Off Young E-waste Hero Competition for Primary and Secondary Students

ANZRP’s free e-waste collection service TechCollect has launched its Young e-Waste Hero competition calling for primary and secondary school students to get involved in the e-waste recycling conversation.

Students are encouraged to tell TechCollect, in their words, the best reason people should recycle unwanted electronics.

To enter, students can go to the TechCollect Facebook page and comment on the competition post, explaining their reason in 25 words or less. Images are encouraged, but not critical. Terms and conditions apply.

Primary student entries will be judged separately from secondary students and winners are eligible for a JB Hi-Fi gift card valued up to $1,000.

Check out the competition and encourage your friends and family to get involved!


Old TV screens for recycling

The e-waste knowledge gap: a growing epidemic

10th February 2016, Melbourne: New research commissioned by e-waste collection and recycling service TechCollect reveals that while the majority (95.7 per cent) of Australians agree that recycling electronic waste (e-waste) is important, almost half (45 per cent) do not currently recycle, with many citing lack of awareness of their options or concerns over data security as key reasons.

The research also found that the majority (80.7 per cent) of respondents admitted that they place more importance on household recycling like cardboard, glass and plastic than they do on recycling their e-waste.

When asked what the biggest barriers to recycling were, the top responses were ‘I’m not sure where to start’ (46.1 per cent) and ‘I’m worried about my personal data getting into the wrong hands’ (38.7 per cent). Other responses also showed that many didn’t know where drop off points were, or even that they could recycle their old technology in the first place.

Nearly half of respondents (43 per cent) also admitted to putting their e-waste on the nature strip for council collection. Carmel Dollisson, CEO of TechCollect, said this can be hazardous to the environment – with individuals often being completely unaware of the potential damage – as well as providing no guarantee of responsible recycling that would recover the raw commodities for use in new products.

“Often people will try and do the right thing, without realising that kerbside collections don’t always provide a guarantee that the product won’t end up in landfill.

“By recycling televisions and computers through a program like TechCollect we ensure that non-renewable resources are safely recovered, so that they can be used again in future manufacturing, as well as ensuring that product containing materials which can be dangerous to both people and the environment if put in landfill, are instead correctly recovered or disposed of.”

Key findings from the survey:
• 91.8 per cent of respondents believe there should be better retail incentives in place to make it easier for them to recycle their e-waste
• Only 11.5 per cent strongly agree that recycling e-waste is a top priority for their household
• 70.6 per cent didn’t know that they could recycle their power cords
• Just more than half (50.3 per cent) of respondents have more than three unused devices at home, and 36.7 per cent have more than five unused electric cords/cables that are collecting dust
• 24 per cent are holding onto their old technology out of fear that they might need it one day, and 38.6 per cent just don’t know what to do with it

“Information and awareness are key to the success of the National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme which TechCollect operates under. An important priority for the Scheme is to educate the public to understand the important role we all play in responsible e-waste recycling. In the digital age where technology consumption is at an all-time high, this has never been more prevalent,” said Dollisson.

While data security is an important concern, it is relatively simple to address before disposing of your e-waste. It’s important to remember to always permanently erase personal data from any computer, tablet, or laptop you plan to recycle. For more information on how to do this contact the manufacturer of your device or search online for data wiping services.

To find out more information about TechCollect or to find a designated drop-off site closest to you, visit: http://www.techcollect.com.au/


Cords and cables for recycling

Save the date! ‘Waste Not, Want Not’ Day

TechCollect is calling for businesses to mark December 8 in the calendar to create a more sustainable workplace!

17th November 2015, Melbourne: TechCollect, an industry-funded, free to the public national electronic waste (e-waste) recycling service, is calling for Australian businesses to take a look around the office on December 8, and recycle any unwanted computers, computer accessories, printers and TVs that have been hoarded in the office cupboard or storage room.

The average employee reportedly generates 1.7 tonnes of total waste in the workplace per year, with only half of this actually being recycled. TechCollect believes that the lead up to Christmas is the perfect time for both employers and employees to clear the office of unwanted technology – and, at the same time, take shared responsibility for their e-waste.

Research also shows that 80% of employees want to see more recycling in their workplaces, and 71% believe that having access to recycling facilities at work makes them feel like they work for a responsible employer.

“It’s important for employees to feel like they work for an employer that’s passionate about corporate social responsibility. ‘Waste Not, Want Not’ day is a great opportunity to show employees, clients and business partners that sustainability is at the top of the business agenda – while freeing up some space around the office,” says Carmel Dollisson, CEO of TechCollect.

“We’re encouraging businesses to make a pledge to support ‘Waste Not, Want Not’ Day on December 8 2015 – to make a positive impact on the environment and the wider community by recycling their e-waste at their nearest TechCollect drop off site.”

There’s four great ways businesses can make a difference on ‘Waste Not, Want Not’ Day:
1. Send an all-company email to advise employees that you’re rounding up old computers, printers and accessories. You can then find your nearest TechCollect drop-off point at techcollect.com.au, as well as information on what we take.
2. Education is vital, not just for better workplace practice but at home. Alert your employees by staff communication to the service offered by TechCollect – remember, we accept e-waste product from households as well.
3. If you’re a business that has an ongoing requirement to regularly dispose of large volumes of IT and want to explore collection and recycling solutions, use ‘Waste Not, Want Not’ Day as an excuse to call us on 1300 229 837.
4. Finally, we encourage companies to share information about our free not-for-profit service via their stakeholder networks and social media channels.

“Businesses are good at recycling paper, cardboard and toners among other items, but we need to build on this effort. Many businesses are unaware that their technology contains valuable resources, the majority of which can be recovered and put back into the manufacturing process.

“When businesses throw out their old computers and televisions rather than taking them to a designated drop-off site for recycling, these non-renewable resources are essentially lost forever. We can all make a difference, it’s a simple and easy decision to do the right thing,” said Dollisson.

Remember, to find out more information about TechCollect or to find a designated drop-off site closest to you, visit techcollect.com.au


Abbey cape illustration red ant

Young Aussie heroes to drive more e-waste recycling

ANZRP’s TechCollect program is calling for entrants for its Young E-Waste Hero program targeting primary school students.  We are looking for students that can demonstrate their understanding of the impact that e-waste has on the environment.

There are three awards up for grabs across Australia. To enter the competition, students are asked to submit a creative entry around the issue of e-waste, in the format of their choice: from a drawing or video entry, to a written story or a poem.

In addition, TechCollect has launched a new Education section of its website, initially featuring resources for primary school teachers and kids.

More information on the competition can be found here, while TechCollect’s new Education section is herewww.tourabe.com