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What a waste! Australian tech recycling options limited

The overwhelming majority of councils in the Sydney metropolitan region fail to provide any direct e-waste recycling services for their residents.

Pam Carroll
Former editor of CNET Australia, Pam loves being in the thick of the ever-growing love affair (well addiction, really) that Australians have with their phones, digital cameras, flat screen TVs, and all things tech.
Pam Carroll
5 min read

Overview | Australian e-waste recycling operations

e-waste recycling

Updated April 18, 2008 to include more Australian e-waste recycling operations.

Most of us are familiar with the weekly roadside recycling ritual of placing newspapers, glass bottles and plastics out for collection by the local council. However, when it comes to recycling bigger ticket items, like old computers and TVs, the process is not nearly as simple -- that's if you live in Sydney anyway.

In an independent survey undertaken by CNET.com.au, we found that an overwhelming majority of councils in the Sydney metropolitan region fail to provide any direct e-waste recycling services for their residents.

In fact, of the 37 councils located in Sydney, CNET.com.au could only find eight councils that provide e-waste recycling services. Four councils -- Ashfield, Mosman, North Sydney and Strathfield -- provide roadside recycling through their general clean-up services. Another four councils -- Willoughby, Waverly, Lane Cove and Mosman -- hold annual e-waste recycling days. E-waste recycling days enable residents to bring their e-waste to a central collection point for recycling by the council.

The downside to the e-waste days is that they usually only happen once a year, which beggars the question of what happens to residential e-waste on the other 364 days.

Almost two-thirds of the councils surveyed did however provide information on third-party e-waste recycling services. The most referred to service was Technical AID to the Disabled, which refurbishes donated computers and loans them out to people with disabilities throughout New South Wales. Other recommended services included Work Ventures Ltd, MRI and Sims E-Recycling, which has four primary e-waste processing facilities in Perth, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane supported by a network of 130 operations in all states and territories.

Several third-party recycling services also involve a charge or fee. Dell, for example, charges a fee of AU$36.00 with an additional surcharge of AU$15.50 for collection outside metropolitan areas.

According to the United Nations (UN), electronic and electrical waste is among the fastest-growing types of trash in the world. StEP, which is a special initiative set up by the UN to look at the e-waste problem, estimates that e-waste will soon reach 40 million tonnes a year or enough to fill a line of dump trucks stretching half way round the world.

Closer to home, the Australian Bureau of Statistics estimates that e-waste is growing at more than three times the rate of general municipal waste. In 2006, around 1.6 million computers were disposed into landfill. According to Willoughby City Council, only four percent of e-waste is recycled in Australia.

At the opposite end of the scale, Japan is leading the way when it comes to recycling e-waste with stringent regulatory measures. A shortage of available landfill sites has spurred the Japanese government to enact the Law for Recycling of Specified Home Appliances. The law covers televisions, refrigerators and freezers, washing machines and air conditioners, which account for 80 percent by weight of the country's electronic equipment waste.

CNET.com.au will continue to compile resources for tackling e-waste in Australia to add to our directory on the following page. Do you know of a service we've missed? Please send the details to cnet@cnet.com.au.

Overview | Australian e-waste recycling operations

CNET.com.au will continue to compile resources for tackling e-waste in Australia to add to this directory. Do you know of a service we've missed? Please send the details to cnet@cnet.com.au.

Organisation Equipment Delivery/Fees Region
Computer Bank NSW
Web site: Computer Bank NSW
E-mail: president@cbnsw.org.au
Phone: (02) 4951 4948
Pentium II 266MHz with 64MB of RAM and 500MB Hard disk or better to donate. Drop-off; free NSW: Sydney, New England, Hunter and Illawarra
Computer for Schools Project
Web site: Computer for Schools Project
E-mail: ctfs@edna.edu.au
Phone:  0428 250 392
The equipment donated to the project has included printers, scanners, modems, photocopiers, network equipment, monitors, servers and personal computers. Virtually all the personal computers being donated to the project now contain Pentium-4 processors or better allowing teachers and students to use a wide variety of e-learning tools. Drop-off; Free Australia-wide
Web site: Dell
E-mail: recycling_dell_au@dell.com
Phone: 1800 465 890
Dell is happy to accept any brand of computer, keyboard, mouse, monitor or printer. Pick-up; Free for Dell equipment, fees apply for other brands. Australia-wide
Web site: HP
E-mail: N/A
Phone: 13 13 47
The program offers to take back end-of-life HP and non-HP computer and printing hardware products such as:
  • Scanners
  • Fax machines
  • Personal computers
  • Servers
  • Monitors
  • Handheld devices
  • Printers
  • Associated external components such as cable, mouse and keyboards
Pick-up; N/A Australia-wide
IT Liquidators
Web site: IT Liquidators
E-mail: enquiries@itliquidators.com.au
Phone: 0433 477 886
All types of computers, monitors, office equipment, electrical equipment, mainframe computers and components, UPS units and back-up batteries, motor vehicle batteries, marine batteries, data and electrical cables Pick-up; Free for Pentium 4 computers in working condition, fees apply for all other equipment. Cash back offer for large quantities of back-up batteries, car batteries and marine batteries. Contact IT Liquidators for more information. NSW: Sydney, Central Coast, Newcastle, Wollongong
Web site: MobileMuster
E-mail: mobilemuster@amta.org.au
Phone: (02) 8920 3555
Mobile phones, batteries and accessories. Drop-off; Free Australia-wide.
Web site: MRI
E-mail: mri@mri.com.au
Phone: 1300 85 85 50
TVs, Stereos, Computers, MP3 players. Takes equipment in any condition. Drop-off; Free Melbourne, Sydney
Web site: Recyclenearyou
E-mail: N/A
Phone: 1300 733 712
Provides comprehensive online advice on how to locate recycling service providers throughout Australia. N/A Australia-wide
Salvation Army
Web site: Salvation Army
E-mail: donations@aue.salvationarmy.org
Phone: 13 72 58
Working computers (not more than four years old) Drop-off; Free Sydney
Sims Recycling Solutions
Web site: Sims Recycling Solutions
E-mail: e-recycling@au.sims-group.com
Phone: (02) 9956 9100
Most computer equipment Drop off (commercial quantities will be collected); Free Australia-wide
Technical AID to the Disabled
Web site: Technical AID to the Disabled
E-mail: info@tadnsw.org.au
Phone: (02) 9808 2022
IBM compatible computers with Pentium III or better processors; Keyboards; Mice; Trackballs and other pointing devices; monitors -- 15 inch SVGA or better; Printers -- small inkjet or small laser; CD and DVD drives Drop off; Free NSW: Albury, Wodonga, Armidale, Central Coast, Central West, Clarence Valley, Coffs Harbour, Hunter, Illawarra, Northern Rivers, Port Macquarie, Shoalhaven, Southern Area, Southern Highlands
Wesley Uniting Employment
Web site: Wesley Uniting Employment
E-mail: wesley.computers@wesleymission.org.au
Phone: 02 8892 2880
IBM compatible computers with Pentium III processors or newer; 15-inch monitors or larger that are in working condition; printers, scanners and peripherals accepted with computers only Drop off (large quantities will be collected); Free Sydney
Work Ventures Group
Web site: Work Ventures Group
E-mail: steve.lawrence@workventures.com.au
Phone: 1800 112 205
WorkVentures Connect is in the business of turning ex-corporate and government PCs and peripheral equipment into affordable systems for disadvantaged families, schools and not for profit organisations around Australia. The cost for our IT disposal services will vary dependent upon the size and quality of your donation. A large, high quality PC fleet will generally incur no collection and decommissioning charges; whereas PC fleets not meeting our minimum specifications will be charged on a cost recovery basis. Sydney