ALMOST half of all Australians are holding on to unused or broken electronics, causing serious problems for the environment.
43 per cent of us are holding on to junk electronics in case we need them again one day, meaning e-waste is building up around the country and not being recycled.
TechCollect, a free national e-waste recycling service paid for by industry, commissioned research into Australians' e-waste disposal habits.
They found one in five Australians hoarde old electronic devices, with half of those saying they were worried about losing personal data. 83 per cent said they didn't know where to get it recycled, 60 per cent said they didn't know it could be recycled, and 58 per cent said they didn't want it recycled.
TechCollect has a simple checklist for disposing of your unwanted e-waste easily:
1. Take a look around your house/office for old, unused electronics.
2. Wipe data, say goodbye, perform any farewell ceremonies.
3. Find out what TechCollect takes here.
4. Find your nearest TechCollect site here.
5. Drop off your unwanted e-waste for free.
6. Feel good that you did something positive for the planet.
7. Enjoy your new, de-cluttered life.
People's concerns for the safety of their personal data have also increased, with 64 per cent of respondents saying the worried their personal data would get into the wrong hands, up 25 per cent from 39 per cent in 2015.
Carmel Dollisson, Chief Executive Officer, TechCollect, says all Australians need to take an active role in being responsible for recycling the e-waste they are generating.
"The challenge is encouraging consumers to let go of old devices they are no longer using or which are actually broken beyond repair. Although devices can hold sentimental value, the non-renewable resources in them can be used in manufacturing when recycled correctly," she said.
"Our new research tells us the average Australian household has approximately 17 electronic devices in the home and yet only 23 per cent of us are always recycling them. With the consumption of electronic devices getting higher all the time, it's crucial consumers look at e-waste recycling as the natural next step in the product lifecycle, especially when it no longer serves its purpose to them."
There is still an e-waste knowledge gap
Only a third of people surveyed said they actually drop their old devices at designated drop-off sites.
Twenty-eight per cent said they left their devices on the nature strip for scheduled council collections and a quarter said they just threw them in the bin, sending it straight to landfill.
"What is concerning in the research is 53 per cent of respondents don't know they can take their e-waste to an e-waste collection site to avoid it going to landfill, and 63 per cent don't know if their local council recycles," said Dollisson.
"These figures are definitely worrying to us. As the end users of these products, it's important the public is informed on the important role they play in responsible e-waste recycling.
"Taking e-waste to a designated drop-off site ensures materials that can be harmful to both people and the environment if put in landfill, are correctly recovered or disposed of. Unfortunately, people who are putting the product on the kerbside or in the bin may feel they're doing the right thing, but this doesn't guarantee the product won't still end up in landfill. It's best to check with the local council about what happens to the e-waste."
The responsibility debate
The TechCollect survey explored respondents' feelings of responsibility and guilt. For those who choose to recycle their e-waste, 74 per cent do so because they feel responsible for the e-waste they produce.
When respondents were questioned on how those who don't recycle their e-waste feel, 18 per cent said they feel very guilty and 46 per cent say they know they could be doing more to help. Apathy is a problem too, with the research showing 31 per cent don't really think about it.
Other findings showed 69 per cent are aware that dumping e-waste in landfill can be hazardous to the environment and 60 per cent of respondents know their electronic devices contain valuable resources that can be recovered.
"These findings are promising. They tell us most people feel responsible for the e-waste they produce and do feel an element of guilt when they choose not to recycle it. But the sad reality is many people just don't know what to do with their e-waste. It's why TechCollect is keen to inform people about the importance of recovering the resources we already have in products that can be re-used, ensuring they understand the process of recycling their e-waste, and where they can dispose of it," concludes Dollisson.
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