As far as community attitudes towards waste management go, most people have basics like recycling cans down pat. It’s the less obvious, less common practices of waste disposal that can sometimes leave people unsure how to act. This is most visible with e-waste, a growing problem that people are unsure of how to deal with on a personal level. But first, what is e-waste?
A definition of e-waste
E-waste is short for ‘electronic waste’ and it refers to all the technology, or pieces thereof that make up general waste. Old monitors, printer cartridges, broken phones – these are all examples of e-waste.
Why is it a problem?
In a consumer-driven society, people are encouraged to continually buy more. Items become obsolete more easily or they break, and are not worth the cost to repair. This is also a result of the cost of electronics being driven down over the last decade. Technologies generally debut at a high cost and then progressively fall as newer items take their place, or they begin to attain ubiquity.
When e-waste is not properly disposed of, it ends up in landfill. The issue with that is the resources used to make the original product are lost forever. There are many re-usable elements, or even harmful chemicals in certain products, and they have separate disposal requirements of the usual food scraps and plastic.
Disposing of e-waste
To create a real change in waste management, an attitude shift needs to take place. People need to think twice about putting toner cartridges in a general waste bin, the same way they’d think twice about aluminium cans.
There are many programs set up to deal with specific types of e-waste. Two particular examples are mobile phones and printer cartridges, which can be deposited into special collection bins that can be found in major shopping centres around Australia. This saves the e-waste from landfill, and means it can be recycled into a more productive form.