Retention of old mobile devices harming the environment

TechCollect is calling for Australians to consider the environmental impact of not recycling their eWaste as new research reveals almost half of us are holding onto unused or broken electronic devices in case we need them again one day.

The national eWaste recycling service’s research highlights one in five of survey respondents admit to being hoarders of old electronic devices. When asked why they don’t recycle their eWaste, 52 per cent said they are worried they’ll lose personal data. Other reasons include not knowing where to recycle it (83 per cent), not knowing it could be recycled (60 per cent), and not wanting to pay to have their device properly recycled (58 per cent).

Personal data was highlighted as a key concern twice, with 64 per cent of respondents also stating they don’t recycle their eWaste because they worry their data will get into the wrong hands. Previous TechCollect research shows this number has increased by 25 per cent, with the same question receiving a response of 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 eWaste 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.

“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 recycling as the natural next step in the product lifecycle, especially when it no longer serves its purpose to them,” says Dollisson.

There is still a knowledge gap

When asking respondents what they do with their unused electronic devices, only 33 per cent admitted to actually recycling it at a designated drop-off site. Other responses included putting their eWaste on the nature strip for a scheduled council collection (28 per cent) and throwing it in the garbage bin (25 per cent), which means the product is almost certain to go straight to landfill.

“What is concerning in the research is 53 per cent of respondents don’t know they can take their eWaste to a dedicated collection site to avoid it going to landfill, and 63 per cent don’t know if their local council recycles,” adds 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 eWaste recycling.

“Taking eWaste 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 eWaste.”

The responsibility debate

“The research tells us most people feel responsible for the eWaste 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 eWaste, and where they can dispose of it,” concludes Dollisson.

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