Byting back at electronic pollution

A recycling program in Australia, Byteback, is said to have prevented more than 1,000 tons of greenhouse gases from entering the atmosphere.

Details of the success of Byteback were outlined in a joint announcement last week by the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) and Sims e-Recycling.

A unique innovation in Australian e-waste management, Byteback is a successful partnership between government and industry that offers responsible electronic waste recycling free of charge to small business and the community. With over 250 tons of electronic waste diverted from landfill through Sims e-Recycling, the Byteback pilot is establishing itself as an Australian waste management success story, according to AIIA CEO, Sheryle Moon.

“Every piece of equipment that is recycled saves a minimum of four to five times its own weight in CO2 emissions,” Moon said. “Additionally, up to 97 per cent of all materials collected through Byteback are recovered for recycling and reuse.” The Byteback program is providing a clear picture of the e-waste stream, demonstrating the potential to divert this waste into new products and pioneering a model for cost efficient and sustainable electronic waste collection on a large scale. “Byteback continues to attract national attention and interest is now being registered by other states to join the program,”Moon said.

“This is welcome enthusiasm, however the roll-out of sites on a larger scale will not be sustainable unless state and federal governments can work together to ensure all computer manufacturers are required to participate in a national product stewardship program.” Moon said the ICT industry is willing to commit to this goal but it is up to the political will of governments across the country to work with industry and other stakeholders to make this happen. AIIA developed the Byteback program in partnership with Sustainability Victoria and founding industry partners Apple, Canon, Dell, Epson, Fujitsu, Fuji-Xerox, HP, IBM, Lenovo, and Lexmark. The partnership operates sites at four municipalities across Victoria: Camberwell, Geelong, Moonee Valley and Darebin.

Sims e-Recycling operates two of these; the other sites are also close to reaching these levels of CO2 abatement.

Five additional sites are also under consideration in other major Victorian regional centers.

One Australian recycling program that has proven to be very successful is ‘Cartridges 4 Planet Ark’ which has diverted more than 5.5 million printer cartridges from Australia’s landfill.

Using revolutionary Australian technology, the innovative program helps to facilitate sustainable use of resources as all of the items dropped into ‘Cartridges 4 Planet Ark’ recycling boxes are sent to a zero-waste-to-landfill facility.

This means that every component of a cartridge collected for recycling is spared from landfill and used to produce other items such as eWood.

E-wood is used to make outdoor furniture, fencing and bollards, as well as fuel to replace natural gas and chemical spill clean-up kits.

In the five years since the program began, hundreds of thousands of Australians and more than 17,000 Australian businesses have taken action to address the growing problem of e-waste by recycling their cartridges through the program.

However, more than 18 million printer cartridges still go to landfill every year.