Recycling Old Computers And Mobile Phones

20:37' 31-08-2017
Every year, Australians throw out millions of TV sets, computers and mobile phones. This electronic waste, or “e-waste”, is growing three times faster than any other type of waste in Australia, as households frequently upgrade their technology.

    Discarded computer circuit boards

    Photo: abc.net.au

    To prevent all this e-waste ending up in landfill, the Federal Government introduced the National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme (NTCRS) in 2011. Under the scheme, which is funded by industry, companies that import or manufacture more than 5,000 televisions, computers or printers per year must help dispose of them.

    The companies join one of four authorised recyclers, which organise collection and recycling of e-waste on their behalf. Householders and small businesses drop off their unwanted televisions, computers and accessories at special collection points, which number more than 1,800 across the country. The authorised recyclers collect the items from the collection point and dismantle them.

    Each year 40,000 tonnes of computers, tablets, televisions, printers, scanners, photocopiers, keyboards and mice are recycled through the scheme. DVD and VCR players are not currently covered.

    It is surprising how much can be recovered from these “end-of-life” products.

    • Plastics and glass are removed from TVs
    • Leaded glass from old cathode ray tube TVs can be processed to recover the lead
    • Metals like gold, silver and copper are recovered from computer circuit boards
    • Lithium, cobalt and cadmium are recovered from batteries
    • Steel and aluminium are recovered from casings

    Rose Read, chief executive of Campbellfield recycling centre MRI Drop Zone, says more than 95% of the materials are recovered. Some of the recovery takes place in Australia, but materials are sent as widely as Korea, Japan and China.

    Mobile phones are mostly recycled under a voluntary scheme called Mobile Muster, which began nearly 20 years ago. The scheme is funded by major phone carriers and retailers through a small levy (42 cents) on each of the eight to 10 million handsets imported each year.

    Each year Mobile Muster recycles more than one million handsets, batteries and accessories, which can be dropped off by consumers at more than 3,000 collection points around Australia.

    You can find your local e-waste recycling collection points at recyclingnearyou.com.au.  

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Keywords: computersfederal governmentmobile phones

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