Does Australia Need An E-Waste Levy?

RubbishTip.jpg In many countries, a small levy is added to the price of all electronic goods to cover the cost of manufacturers reclaiming them at the end of their life and ensuring their components are recycled. In Australia, just 4% of electronic items are properly recycled, and the rest end up at the local tip, Karen Dearne reports at AustralianIT. Despite that poor record, however, the Federal Government doesn't want to commit to a similar scheme, with environment minister Peter Garrett rejecting suggestions effectively dodging the question:

I want to develop a national waste policy which maximises our opportunities to increase recycling, working closely with state and local jurisdictions to consider the best options for reducing the amount of waste going to landfill. I am not ruling anything in or out at this stage.

Given the current poor record, it seems to me that a financial incentive is the best chance to stop people dumping old electronics. If you've got suggestions for other tactics, let's hear them in the comments.


    You just need to make it easy for people to be able to recycle as a first step. Plastic, tin cans, paper all go in the bin outside your house. Easy so it happens (for the most part).

    But e-waste? Ask people where they can recycle it and the answer will be "Umm, I don't know". Personally I know of a few phone stores that recycle phones, but that is about it. There is e-waste disposal here at Uni somewhere, but as for dumping stuff from my house, I use the place it on the nature strip and it magically vanishes. Reuse is better for the environment than recycle afterall.

    Even having a place to take your stuff for recycling would be a start...I've got 3 monitors I've been hanging on to for years waiting for some place to take them for recyling.

    I agree with the previous comments. There are very few e-waste facilities, and certainly none in my state - we recently had four shipping containers filled with e-waste shipped outside our state for recycling.
    I am all for levies and taxes to reduce e-waste reaching landfill. I really think Garrett as an environment minister is letting everyone down.

    My local council has come up with a wonderful solution. They no longer accept e-waste for the kerbside general clean up. They suggest returning it to the manufacturer.

    They didn't suggest what I do with the ten-year-old no name clones from shops that no longer exist, or fifty year old TVs made by manufacturers that are no longer manufacturing.

    Good one. Would've helped, as well, if they'd mentioned it before we all put our stuff out on the kerb.

    But I'm sure they feel good about it.

    I don't have a problem with recycling the stuff, but I see my local council closing their eyes to all kinds of recycling - paint, engine oil, e-waste, etc., patting themselves on the back, and hoping that someone else will take it away.

    Bitter? Not much.

    I would certainly pay an e-waste levy, something that is sorely missing but I can tell you now you won't get Garret to do anything - he is one of the biggest jokes in parliament. Burned his activist bridges when he joined the Labor Party and has since been a complete dud policy and decision wise.

    For Victorian residents, try ByteBack

    Aus only recycles 4%, Europe recylces 80% e-waste... even the US has a better percentage than us Aussies. Councils should accept e-waste and charge on the small levy to bring us up to the standard of the rest of the world. If we're so serious about ratifying kyoto we need to put our money where our mouth is.

    Also, manufacturers need to help too. Ricoh Australia has a free machine recycling service.. .they pick up old machines and pay for the recycling themselves. If all major manufacturers did this, the responsibility is shared.

    The whole situation is a bit of a catch-22. Many recycling facilities for ewaste will not set-up shop until there is legislation to guarantee the volume. Where the government will only place legislation until there are facilities to be able handle the volume.

    There is one clean technology company that has gone ahead called PGM Refiners which has set-up the first e-waste automated recycling system in Australia which separates e-waste into its recyclable components and value-adds. It is believed the system is able to process over 8000 tonnes/annum of most ewaste. I think they accept waste from from domestic users all the way to corporate giants. Possibly give them a go. Website is

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