COOLmob E-Waste Education Project

Background:

The COOLmob e-Waste Education Project will serve as a public education service, in response to COOLmob’s experience that the public knows little about either the environmentally damaging impacts of the production and disposal of e-waste, or about the current local recycling options.

E-waste is electronic waste and refers to computers and computer accessories, printer cartridges, televisions, mobile phones, batteries, whitegoods, DVD/CD players, digital cameras and power tools. E-waste is a new and rapidly growing waste stream, as the public purchases increasing amounts of ever-cheaper electronic products. With built-in obsolescence meaning many products have a useful life of only a year or more, people are increasingly storing old electronic items at home because they don’t know what to do with them, or – worse for the environment and health – they are being dumped in landfill.

The electronic products we use everyday have an impact on the environment and humans. Electronics need inputs of energy and raw materials including metals, oil and water to make, store and transport them. When a product reaches its end of life more energy is used for its disposal, including for transport to landfill. Products then breakdown and may release hazardous substances or greenhouse gases. Some of these include toxic contents include lead, mercury, cadmium and arsenic. Products in landfill also represent a loss of valuable resources.

There is very strong imperative for us to reduce the amount of e-waste entering the waste stream. There is also an imperative to reduce the over-consumption of dwindling minerals and resources through frequent purchase of new and un-recycled (or unrecyclable) electronic products.

The Northern Territory has the country’s lowest levels of recycling (all types of recycling) [just 4% of waste being recycled, compared to the national average of 51%1], which has been highlighted in the media2.

 

The Project

Aim:

To increase the uptake of electronic products recycling across Darwin and raise awareness of other ways to minimize e-waste: rethink, reduce, reuse, and repair.

Project Objectives:

The following outcomes can be expected from this project:

  1. Research and the creation of a current directory of domestic and commercial e-waste recycling options in the Darwin area.
  2. Design and delivery of a public education campaign to raise awareness of issues relating to e-waste and current e-waste recycling options in Darwin.
  • Liaise with government and industry stakeholders to identify current e-waste streams and strategies to reduce the amount going to landfill.
  1. Desktop research collecting data on the amount of commercial and domestic e-waste currently being recycled in Greater Darwin to be used as a benchmark for future change.
  2. Interview individuals/households to determine their consumption and disposal of household electronics as well as their awareness regarding options to recycle in Darwin.
  3. Design and deliver an e-waste information portal.

 

Key Funder: The Northern Territory Environment Protection Authority (NT EPA)

Key Stakeholders:

  • NT EPA
  • Councils and NT Government
  • NTRS
  • Harvey Norman
  • Mobile Muster
  • Planet Ark
  • Cleanaway
  • Shoal Bay Waste Management Facility
  • Local computer and electronics businesses
  • Schools
  • Sea Breeze Festival and Darwin Fringe Festival

 

For more information contact:

Glenn Evans Projects Manager, glenn.evans@ecnt.org, 8981 1984.

This project will help contribute to an increased uptake of e-waste recycling in Greater Darwin, motivate people to become more responsible, less wasteful consumers of electronic products and to consider the end-of-life phase of electronic products.

 

1 Source: Federal Government 2012 http://www.environment.gov.au/system/files/resources/b4841c02-229b-4ff4-8b3b-ef9dd7601d34/files/waste-recycling2011.pdf

2 Source: NT News http://www.ntnews.com.au/news/northern-territory/northern-territorys-recycling-efforts-slack-compared-to-rest-of-australia/story-fnk0b1zt-1227167971736