The growing problem of e-waste

The growing problem of e-waste

We are regularly talking about upgrading computers and peripherals, like screens and printers, as well as our mobile devices like phones and tablets. What do we do with the old ones?

Well the government has come up with the National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme (NTCRS) with a target that 80% of electrical waste will be recycled by 2021-22.

With this scheme there has been a standard published AS/NZS 5377:2013 and it is about to attract some attention as consultants and recycling practitioners get themselves certified to show they meet the requirements to manage e-waste effectively.

Here is a great guide by the South Australian government on what can be recycled.

Of course, a lot of what is thrown out in business still has a second life for people in less affluent circumstances or in developing countries if it can be reused or recycled.

It is also interesting that in many countries there are now restrictions on what elements can be used in electronic equipment to ensure they are environmentally acceptable at the end of their useful life. Reductions in elements such as mercury are part of this shift.

In the meantime, as small or medium businesses there are some things we can do to be more efficient in the recycling of electrical objects:


  • Don’t store obsolete equipment for a rainy day, the sooner it is recycled the more useful its components can be
  • Where possible, buy slightly higher quality equipment that lasts one to three years longer in use
  • Consider donation to a worthy cause before recycling
  • Avoid using hard rubbish collections to dispose of electrical equipment
  • Use ethical recyclers who destroy data on chips and disks or ensure you wipe them yourself before passing them on (remember many large printers have hard drives that store information too)
  • Use ethical recyclers who ensure components are separated locally and ensure toxins do not go to landfill in cheap labour destinations such as China and India

In business it is very difficult to avoid the awful obsolescence the innovation cycle is causing as the cost of not upgrading becomes higher than the cost of hanging on to old technology.

We all need to plan ahead as much as we can and work hard to ensure that as much of what we use is recovered at the end of life.

Keep in mind that we will all need to have arrangements and policies in place to manage this within the next few years.

David Markus is the founder of Combo – the IT services company that is known for Business IT that makes sense. How can we help?



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