Alliance formed to mandate computer recycling

An e-waste recycling alliance in Australia has been formed to lobby state and federal governments to introduce mandatory schemes to force computer manufacturers to recycle old equipment.

The alliance, calling itself the Lets do IT! Group, was founded this month by a consortium of recycling and environmental advocates and will extend Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) proposals calling for mandatory IT equipment take-back, which have been rejected by state and federal governments.

Group member Kane Siegel, TIC E-waste Solutions general manager, said the group will demand the government accelerate legislation so that recycling infrastructure can be fully used to stem the waste generated by the 1.6 million computers disposed of annually.

“The infrastructure is in place to enable large-scale e-waste recycling, but it is being under-used as increasing volumes of toxic e-waste continue to go to landfill,” Siegel said.

New South Wales Local Government Association president Cr Genia McCaffery said local councils are being unfairly burdened with increasing volumes of throw-away e-waste, while the industry actively promotes product replacement and redundancy. McCaffery said councils don’t have the capacity to recycle the e-waste, so known hazardous materials are going into landfill even though recycling technology is available.

SIMS Recycling Solutions general manager, Peter Netchaef said governments have rejected industry proposals, because they do not address historical or orphan equipment – no-name products or computers from manufacturers which have closed down, despite previous promises to include these products.

The group’s formation follows a recent Computer Product Stewardship Meeting (CPSM) where computer vendors and the NSW Department of Environment and Conservation discussed the industry’s handling of e-waste.

“Some producers want to stick to their own take-back schemes and the CPSM has yet to engage the multitude of small component importers, which make up half the industry,” Netchaef said.

The group’s first meeting will be on September 8 in Melbourne and will address the acceleration of computer recycling schemes across Australia.

Group membership includes Total Environment Center, SIMS Recycling Solutions, MRI Australia, Environment Victoria, NSW Local Government Association, TIC Group and the Conservation Council of Western Australia.